'This is God's story'

Marthasville volunteer recognized for dedication to Bethel Hills Community

By Jack Underwood, Staff Writer
Posted 5/9/24

Billie Kramme has been instrumental to the Bethel Hills Community since its inception in 2015.

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'This is God's story'

Marthasville volunteer recognized for dedication to Bethel Hills Community


Billie Kramme has been instrumental to the Bethel Hills Community since its inception in 2015. The community now offers affordable housing and a community environment to the developmentally disabled although it was a long road to get there. 

While they received their designation as a 501(c) charity in 2015 they would not secure the funding to start developing their community until much later. They would never have been able to afford their 127 acre campus outside of Marthasville, until an anonymous donor stepped in around 2019 offering to foot the $2 million bill for the land. 

From there their work was only beginning, as the property still needed significant renovations before it could be used for its intended purpose. Kramme said that they never would have made it where they are today without the outpouring of support from the community. 

“This community, it’s unbelievable, from the day we signed on the dotted line, we had volunteers here right at the door ready to start working,” Kramme said. 

While she is quick to deflect praise to other volunteers and workers at the facility, she has been working as the acting executive director for the property for several years and has recently been recognized for her dedication and service to the facility. 

In late April, Kramme was announced as one of 10 women who will be honored as a 2024 Woman of Achievement by the St. Louis Women of Achievement Awards in St. Louis. She will receive that award at their annual luncheon in St. Louis on May 14. 

While she is appreciative of the award, Kramme says that out of all the work she has done in her long career both with non-profits and as a registered nurse, she never expected any reward. 

“Well, I never did decide to (volunteer). I just do what needs to be done to make a difference in this world, and that’s in my heart, so it’s not anything I go looking for,” Kramme said. 

Currently the facility at Bethel Hills houses 15 residents, between the developmentally disabled residents, caretakers, family members and workers. There are plans to expand and Kramme hoped that the next phase of their expansion would be open in July of this year which would increase their capacity to 23. 

Following that expansion there are additional plans to significantly increase the size of the community. Kramme said they hope to construct several new single and multi-family homes on the property to expand the community and offer opportunities for more families. 

They are currently finishing construction of another set of apartments that would house an additional four families or residents. Once those are completed, there are plans for much more significant expansion in the future. 

That expansion would include 14 new buildings that would increase the facility’s capacity up to 70 residents once the additional phases of construction are completed. Unfortunately, according to Kramme, there is not a completion date yet for the expansions since they are projected to cost $1 million each. 

She has been working as the executive director for free since 2021, although she hopes that this year they will find the space in the budget to hire a director full-time. 

“It’s looking like toward the end of the year, our budget might be ready to do that,” Kramme said. “In my opinion, this whole thing is, anytime anybody can make a difference in someone else’s life, that’s what we’re here for.”

The facility also offers events and activities for their residents with gardening, and a full size gym on the property. 

Right now they are still in the process of finalizing the plans for their expansion and are working with the county to rezone parts of their property so they can construct new residential housing. The buildings they are using currently were already on the property when they purchased it and so they did not need to work with any governing bodies to renovate them. 

At the end of the day, Kramme was grateful for the recognition she is receiving, although that praise pales in comparison to the impact she feels she has been able to make on the lives of others and the work that she and her volunteers have been able to accomplish at Bethel Hills. 

“This is God’s story, there’s no way we can do this without his intervention. He just takes care of his kids,” Kramme said. “This was not the original intention but it has just been the perfect fit.”

Bethel Hills, Billie Kramme