'Boxtown Comes to Bethany House': Leaving 'Comfort Zone' Leads Students to Greater Understanding

Each October since 1995, Molloy has welcomed the staff and guests of Bethany House, Nassau County's leading residence for homeless families, to the college's Rockville Centre campus. There, students, faculty, Bethany residents and volunteers build a "boxtown" and sleep out in solidarity with the homeless community of Nassau County during a fundraising event that has raised thousands.

BoxtownIn 2007, Molloy and Bethany House added the "Boxtown comes to Bethany" program: during which students don't just build a "boxtown," they go to Bethany House and build relationships. The students learn experientially as they put names to the faces of Nassau's homeless women and children. During this five-hour program, students are each given the identity of a homeless woman, based on an actual case history - a character they must assume for the full event. In their new identity, students spend time learning from the Bethany House residents how to cope with the painful and challenging experience of actually being homeless.

"The close relationship we've nurtured with Molloy over the past fifteen years is one of Bethany's greatest gifts," explains Bethany House Director S. Aimee Koonmen, "but the magnificent relationships that have developed between the students and the sheltered women and their children are clearly what make all our lives more meaningful."