This new year marks Tabor’s 50th anniversary serving Lancaster County residents and the community. The Golden Anniversary is an occasion to celebrate the wonderful work Tabor staff have done in helping thousands of individuals and families meet their housing and financial challenges over the course of five decades.
The anniversary is also a moment to reflect on Tabor’s history and salute its founders. Our history began in 1967 when some members of the Mennonite community in Lancaster were deeply troubled by reports of racial discrimination in housing in the City of Lancaster and responded by coming together to form a corporation they named Menno Housing. The corporation purchased blighted residential properties in the City, brought them up to code using Mennonite volunteers and then rented the homes to low income and minority families. One year later the founders recognized that some of the families had needs requiring the assistance of social work professionals and also wanted to help low income families achieve home ownership. In response, they formed a non-profit organization and gave it the name Tabor Community Services, drawing from a Biblical reference to Mount Tabor in ancient Israel.
1968 was, as many of you will remember or have read, a momentous year in American history. Political upheaval caused by the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the social unrest common in the 60’s left many Americans feeling bewildered, overwhelmed and even fearful about the future of the country. Perhaps at least some of Tabor’s founders themselves may have had some of those feelings as well, but in a time of turbulence and uncertainty they turned to values they knew to be the most enduring. At the time they said “We commit ourselves to work at the combined problems of poverty and racial discrimination in Lancaster City and County, thus meeting human needs, giving a witness to the love of Christ and promoting peace in the community by helping alleviate the conditions which breed hatred, crime and violence.”
50 years later we can appreciate and salute the initiative, commitment, foresight and compassion our founders displayed at an uncertain time in history. These strengths became the foundation for an organization which still thrives to this day and will build upon for the years to come.