Celebrating 40: Junior League & Community Grassroots Engagement

Junior League

The Junior League played a key role in early Bethany House organizing. Junior League members spearheaded the needs assessment that revealed a need for a longer-term shelter for domestic violence victims in the early 80s.

Thanks to those amazing women, Bethany House was remarkably launched less than two years after the needs assessment was complete.

The Junior League’s contribution to Bethany House has been woven in and out of services and awareness-raising for the last 40 years.

Click the image to the right to explore meeting notes and newsletters from the earliest days of planning. If you knew someone who contributed to the founding of Bethany House, you may see their name in these files!

Teddy Wilson

See early contributor and Junior League member, Teddy Wilson, in Bread and Roses Too, a documentary about domestic violence and the history of Bethany House.

If you would like to skip to Teddy’s interview, you will find the first clip at 5:56, but we encourage you to watch the whole film. 

The documentary was written and produced by Sister Judith Ann Zielinski, OSF, of New Group Media in South Bend, IN. Executive Producers included Sister Mary Jon Wagner, OSF, congregational minister of the Sisters of St. Francis; and Sister Theresa Darga, OSF, assistant congregational minister.

Sadly, Teddy passed away in January 2024, but her legacy lives on in the lives touched by the mission of Bethany House.

Ruth Baumann

Early connections to Bethany House have lasting impact.

Ruth Baumann (pictured right) served for many years as a consultant for Bethany House organizers. In 2022, she donated her estate to Bethany House. Her gift has provided stable funding that has allowed Bethany House to provide its services to survivors free of charge. 

This stability has been critical to our continued operations as federal, state and local funding for domestic violence resources, education and prevention have been slashed year after year.

Veronica Murphy

In early 1984, Veronica heard a radio interview about women who were breaking up homes by leaving abusive husbands. The callousness toward women who were experiencing violence, and the blame and shame cast on them rather than the abusive husbands enraged her. A few months later, she was at a dinner party with her friend from Chicago who had a brother who was a priest, Father Pat, in Toledo. Fr. Pat mentioned a convent that had recently been donated to Sr. Rose Therese to be used as a shelter for domestic violence victims.

Veronica decided this was her moment–she would use her rage to fuel her activism. Veronica reached out to Sr. Rose Therese shortly after the dinner. Sr. asked her to choose between serving on the board or working directly with residents, so Veronica chose to offer her services as a newly sworn-in lawyer to provide legal counsel to the residents.

In the early days, Veronica met with residents for informal meetings in the multi-purpose room. She laughingly describes giving legal counsel while toddlers climbed her ankles. Participants were not required to make appointments. Instead, Veronica set a regular time each month to be available. She recalls countless horrifying stories heard during those sessions.

Veronica remembers assisting survivors with name changes, which helped women escape men who were tracking them, even after their stay at Bethany House. She sat with victims in the courtroom and created a system of safety for survivors navigating the judicial system, long-before court advocates for victims of domestic violence existed.

Veronica was sworn in as a lawyer in May 1984 and was discussing her contribution to Bethany House by June or July. After providing legal counsel to Bethany House residents for 30 years, Veronica Murphy served 2 terms on the Bethany House Board of Trustees with Deidra Lashley as Executive Director.

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