Lehigh, its partners in the community and the City of Bethlehem join forces to foster South Bethlehem’s resurgence.
This summer, Lehigh is scheduled to begin construction on its Health, Science and Technology building, which will be home to the new College of Health. The New Residential Houses are taking shape further up the hill, and the SouthSide Commons residential facility is nearly complete at Brodhead and Packer avenues.
On the same Wednesday that Kawash and the other Lehigh tutors were helping with homework at Cathedral Church, two of Lehigh’s health equity interns were blocks away at the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley on East Fourth Street. The center and adjacent Fowler Community Wellness Center (St. Luke’s University Health Network is also a partner) are community hubs, where people gather to eat, play dominoes and bingo, get help finding jobs and access medical care and other services.
It’s close to 4 p.m. on a Wednesday in April, when a small group of students from Fountain Hill Elementary School bound into a large basement room at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, blocks from the western part of the Lehigh campus. The youngsters are ready, first, for snacks, before diving into homework. They gravitate toward the Lehigh students who come here regularly in late afternoon to help them with their reading and other core subjects.
Just steps from the university, on streets that are predominantly to the east and west of campus, are row homes, apartments and small homes that juniors and seniors and graduate students opt to rent. About a third of undergraduates live off campus.
John Saraceno is among a core group of business owners and lifelong residents who have long believed in South Bethlehem’s potential. For decades, Saraceno pushed to make city leaders more attentive to the South Side and reached out to university officials to encourage more involvement.
When Warren Clark and his partner, Derrick, began exploring a move north after a few years in Austin, Texas, their first plan was to settle back in Philadelphia. It was a move that made sense, not only because Derrick had previously lived in and knew the city well, but also because the couple would be trading one metropolis-sized college town (Austin) for another (Philadelphia).
On a Wednesday morning in April, Hector Lopez, operations manager for the SouthSide Ambassadors, is standing on Third Street in Bethlehem, near the Lit Coffee Roastery & Bakeshop. It’s 9 a.m., but already members of his seven-person crew have been on the streets for an “impact clean,” picking up discarded pizza boxes, cups, anything big, anything obvious.
How hard work, hands-on learning and lots of late nights helped one Lehigh student group turn a pile of parts into a high-performance off-road race car.