Bethesda Project’s Meck out to hinder hunger and homelessness


Courtesy of her Lehigh County upbringing, Kathy Meck has developed an affinity for inclusivity, deeming downtrodden denizens worthy of as much, if not more, attention and affection as fortunate figures. Forever eager to improve prospects for disadvantaged individuals, the 31-year-old director of development for Bethesda Project, 1630 South St., is serving as co-creator and overseer of Nov. 17’s Sweet & Savory Battle Against Hunger, her organization’s chief contribution to National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week.

“We have passion for our work, which is to treat people with dignity and respect, and this event will go a long way toward promoting our mission,” the resident of the 400 block of South Street said from her place of employment, which will hold the fundraiser at the University City-situated International House Philadelphia. “We’re here to be family to those who have none, and that’s especially vital at this time of year.”

The Queen Village occupant and colleague Yarissa Reyes are executing the event as a call to compassion and commitment, with Meck particularly pumped about continuing to crusade for more resources and regard for social outcasts’ rejuvenation. Six months into her tenure with Bethesda, she has come to consider the entity her professional home and expects Monday’s gathering to pinpoint the pertinence of registering responsibility for all.

“I think being mindful of that affects the quality of my life,” she said. “I’ve had so many positive experiences to feed my fire, so I’m happy to link my thinking with Bethesda’s mindset.”

Having engaged in numerous conversations with vendors and businesses, Meck, as has become her wont when taking on tasks, wants others to bask in the fruits of her labors, with next week’s celebration aiding not only Bethesda’s 14 locations and thousands of homeless and formerly homeless clients but also local culinary students. Their appetizers and desserts will compete for distinction, with Scott Schroeder, of American Sardine Bar, 1800 Federal St., and South Philadelphia Tap Room, 1509 Mifflin St., judging their handiwork. The evening extravaganza will also feature the premiere of “Perseverance with Dignity,” a documentary detailing Philadelphia’s efforts and struggles to conquer homelessness, an especially timely aspect of National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, which will begin Saturday and run through Nov. 23.

“This is our first battle against hunger, and though it’s yet to happen, I’m already thinking about how we can attract more people for future promotions and fundraisers in this vein,” Meck offered. “With Bethesda, I find myself constantly pondering how I can help us to help others because in the end, that’s what it’s about, being in a position where, having known what it’s like for people to care for us, we know how to go forth and help others. I’m very interested in happy outcomes, which is why I believe this is where I’m meant to be.”

The Emmaus native has been honing her hankering for harmonious outcomes since her high school days, when she came to see volunteering as a viable venture for enhancing community growth. Blessed with parents who fostered empathy for the global family, she sought out the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection for her undergraduate journey, matriculating at Drexel University as an economics and international area studies major.

“Being in a big city was an eye-opener,” Meck said of leaving her middle-of-the-sticks background behind to intensify her identity in a bustling metropolis. “I got a taste of everything at Drexel, especially through my co-op opportunities.”

Grasping the “vast array of needs” inhibiting societal maturation, including educational woes and equality lapses, she earned a public administration graduate degree through Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, an institution that helped to clarify her courtship of a leadership role.

“I feel going for my masters helped to pull everything together,” Meck said of the decision that, among other boons, yielded a trip to Mississippi as part of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. “I knew I wanted to address so many issues and apply certain skills while picking up others.”

Her fire stoked, she acquired positions with Miller-Keystone Blood Center and The Baum School of Art before returning to Philadelphia, following her heart and listening to her Type A personality to believe her collegiate city would promote professional growth. Thinking nothing can eclipse education, she obtained a senior grant writer post with the Old City-headquartered Center for Literacy, eventually becoming its director of development and marketing.

“I aspired to have such a job by the time I reached 30, so I love that I was able to help another organization so enthused about benefiting others,” Meck said of her three-year stint with the employer.

Desiring more integration in her development pursuits, she looked for similarly socially conscious companies to bolster and started with Bethesda, which she classified as her “wild card” because of initial hesitancy about joining a mission with an overt religious nature, in May. During that time, she has realized even more admirably that regardless of one’s faith allegiance, compassion and care must rule the day when ministering to the lowly.

“It’s amazing how positive and caring everyone is,” Meck said. “There’s a tremendous level of consistency and compassion, and that’s beneficial to sample and do my best to increase.”

When not figuratively helping Bethesda’s clients to put their best foot forward in defeating homelessness, she literally keeps pace as a committed runner, with next week’s participation in the half-marathon marking her fourth straight appearance in the Philadelphia Marathon. In a world short on certainty, Meck uses each trek to “check in with myself” and build an immense sense of tranquility. No matter the circumstances surrounding the completion of a course, she never fails to finish, a message definitely applicable to Bethesda-aided individuals when they wage campaigns against their ills.

“I’m fortunate for these opportunities to help,” Meck said, “and I will continue to set the bar high.”

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Contact Managing Editor Joseph Myers at or ext. 124.



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