Story contributed by: Samantha Rodonis – Site Manager, Freeport Program Without Walls
Back in September, Amanda Brosnan, a volunteer at Freeport’s Program Without Walls Hubsite #6, wanted to organize a collection drive for the homeless. She approached me with the idea and asked if this could be done. I asked if she knew of a specific place she wanted to donate, she didn’t know of a place, but knew she wanted to make sure women and children were helped, especially people who had been survivors of abuse, a cause that is very important to her. We did some research online and we found Bethany House. Bethany House is a shelter for only women and children located in Roosevelt, NY. They provide a safe and supportive living environment for women and children in Nassau County who find themselves homeless. They believe that “each person deserves and needs adequate food, clothing, and shelter, provided in a nurturing and sustaining environment.” We reached out to Bethany House and explained to them that we would like to hold a collection to be donated to them and had them identify all of the supplies they needed such toilet paper and paper goods, toiletries and sanitary products as well as diapers and snacks for the children.
From the moment we had decided on donating to Bethany House and knew what they needed, Amanda was up and running to make this happen; she handmade the flyers which were distributed to all of day program and around the Freeport building. Once the donations started coming in (which was within days!) she organized all of the donations by category and kept a running inventory of all we had received. Every time a donation came to the site, Amanda lit up with excitement. She had chosen to run the collection until November 15th and reminded us often to keep advertising so that we could have a great collection to bring there. By the time that date arrived we had collected so many items and we could not wait to bring it all there.
On November 20th, Amanda, along with me, Clinician Pamela Boyle, staff member Aprilyn Ratley and five of her peers (Debra Grupp, Maria Cruz, Lillian Hills, Nefertiti Dolce and Karen Solga), all went to Bethany House to deliver our donations. We were greeted by the Residential Director, Donna James. Donna was overwhelmed by all we had brought and shared how all of these items were so needed by them. Donna spoke to all of us about the house and the other residences they have in the area. She shared about the women and children who live there and gave us a tour of their beautiful home. On the tour, we got to meet one of the residents. She was very open with us, sharing about the situation she was in before she arrived two weeks ago. She hit hard times and was sleeping in a local train station. When she finally reached out to social services she was placed at Bethany House. She now has a bed to sleep in, three meals a day and a job she can walk to in the area. She shared how in just a short amount of time, her life has changed and she is forever grateful. We all got to see firsthand how this home changes lives. Our volunteers were able to share with her and the staff of Bethany House about how they are Thankful for all of the things we have in our lives that we often take for granted. With Thanksgiving only a week away, we are all a bit more thankful for how fortunate we are and hope we can continue to help those who are not quite as lucky. Amanda has already begun planning her next collection for the spring and can’t wait to return to Bethany House.