Bethany House Connection: September 2023

We Say Farewell to Doug O’Dell . . .

It is with hearts full of deep gratitude that we said farewell to Doug O’Dell, Bethany House’s Executive Director for the past three years.  During his tenure, Doug strengthened the board and its committee structure, and he improved systems of accountability, community connections and the case management process.  He had an open door policy where guests were always welcome to contact him directly to share concerns, ideas and accomplishments.  

Recently we gathered at a luncheon to thank Doug for the passion, commitment, energy and expertise he shared with Bethany House over the past three years.  The delicious catering was donated by Moe’s Southwest Grill of Oceanside, and the Bethany House board members provided desserts.  We wish Doug the best of luck in all his future endeavors!

. . . and Welcome to Katie Swanson

Bethany House is pleased to announce the appointment of Catherine “Katie” Swanson as its Executive Director as of August 28, 2023.

Katie Swanson comes to Bethany House having over 20 years of experience in human services focused on emergency housing in Nassau County.  Katie’s most recent position was as Deputy Director of Emergency Housing at the Nassau County Office of Housing/Department of Social Services (“DSS”).  Katie earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the School of Social Work at Syracuse University, and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Adelphi University, Graduate School of Social Work.  Her extensive experience will be an asset to Bethany House in both providing emergency shelter and also transitional services (including financial literacy, women’s empowerment groups, and case worker support) to the women and children it serves, in an effort to end the cycle of homelessness.

We look forward to learning from and growing with Katie as we continue to serve the needs of women, and women with children, experiencing homelessness in Nassau County.

Starbucks Staff Pour Out Their Hearts

In addition to pouring coffee and serving customers at local Starbucks stores in the community, many of the partners (employees) have been pouring out their hearts about Bethany House.  They have the ability to choose local worthy causes they would like #TheStarbucksFoundation #NeighborhoodGrants to donate to.  Bethany House was selected not once, but twice, by the partners in the Starbucks locations in Levittown and Rockville Centre!

These two friendly faces (flanking our Interim Assistant Executive Director, DawnMarie) surprised us at our office with cookies and a thank you balloon to inform us that Bethany House is the recipient of a $6,000 grant!  The previous month we received a visit from another Starbucks partner bearing coffee and mugs, followed by a check for $4000.  We are incredibly grateful to the Starbucks partners for supporting our mission and to The Starbucks Foundation Neighborhood Grants!

High Schooler Hosts Comedy Fundraiser

Kate Cooney, a Kellenberg H.S. junior, has been conducting arts and crafts activities in our homes for the women and children for quite some time now. This summer, she organized a fundraiser at the Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown to benefit Bethany House. It was a huge success, and Kate and her family were able to raise $4,500 to donate to Bethany House.

Summer Toys

Mackenzie Malone ran a drive for Bethany House at The Garden School in Jackson Heights. The students raised $1,475.00, and collected beach toys for our residents.  Summer fun for the children at Bethany House was enhanced by Mackenzie and her school’s generosity.

Call for Veggies

As we all struggle with inflation and rising food costs, Bethany House has been lucky to be the recipient of vegetable and fruits grown at Crossroads Farm in Malverne, in the gardens at Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh and the Merrick Jewish Center. All produce is shared among our five residences. Food U.S. assists in the delivery of the veggies from the Merrick Jewish Center, and has been delivering food to us for several years now.

Providing nutritious meals is a top priority at Bethany House. If you or someone you know would like to become a monthly fresh produce donor, contact us today at

Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters!

Bethany House Connection: June 2023

Peace, Love, Pickleball!

Frank Millilo of Long Island Pickleball Pros held the 3rd fun and successful pickleball fundraiser on March 5, 2023.  Over 45 people showed up to the event benefitting Bethany House.  The day started with a pickleball clinic for beginners followed by a tournament.  Ping pong and cornhole were also available and all attendees got a swag bag! Thank you to Frank and all who came out  for the fun! 

20th Annual Fashion Show

On March 15, 2023, Bethany House held their 20th annual fashion show.  Over 200 guests attended to support the organization and enjoy a night of fun and fashion.  

To mark the milestone anniversary of  the event, the organization chose fashion show models who are outstanding members of the local and Bethany House community.  The evening started with cocktails, followed by dinner and a the main event, a fashion show sponsored by Bloomingdales in the Roosevelt Field Mall.

 Bloomingdale’s supplied beautiful fashions for our amazing models; Shira Benedetto ( , Teresa Little (Bethany House employee), Lisa Lowe (, Kia Moore (Bethany House Board Member), Kerry Punzi ( , Gloria Romanowski (Local Daniel Gale Real Estate Agent), Vicki Rhodes (Bethany House Volunteer and Supporter), and Lisa Umansky (  The models during the fashion show were dressed in a range of outfits from a pajama set, to a glitzy evening gown.  

Thank you to all who participated and supported the event- we already can’t wait for next years event!

Dancing for Donations!

Bethany House was the fortunate recipient for The American Ballet Studio in Bayport’s fundraiser.  Artistic Director Kathleen Kairns-Scholz organized the fantastic event which was held behind the studio.  From admissions, raffles and a 50/50 raffle, the event raised a great amount for our organization.  Bethany House Assistant Executive Director, DawnMarie Goins attended the event on behalf of the organization and was overwhelmed by the talented students and their generosity, hospitality and support.   

Going for Gold! 

Genevieve is a lovely young woman who donated her time at Bethany House to earn her Gold Award with the Girl Scouts Council of Greater New York. She first reached out to us in August 2022, and from that time forward, until she completed her project, she worked diligently to raise awareness amongst her peers and in her community to the issue of homelessness in Nassau County, New York.

Genevieve spent many hours in our homes, engaging with and serving our guests. She also
volunteered at our 2022 holiday party and at two events this year — our annual pickleball
tournament fundraiser and our annual fashion show. In addition to the time Genevieve spent
in our homes and at our events, she also created a social media page dedicated to bringing
awareness to the problem of homelessness and the mission of Bethany House. Additionally,
she organized and managed an extremely successful drive to collect many needed items for
our homes.  

Her project work won her the “It’s Your Time to Shine” Scholarship for the great work she did with us. Genevieve, in turn, donated the monies back to  Bethany House.  Thank you and congratulations, Genevieve!

A Year of Thanks!

A Year of Thanks! 

Happy New Year! Bethany House enters 2023, feeling quite fulfilled and incredibly fortunate. Our holidays were busy, fun-filled, and quite joyous. 

December was an extremely busy month for us. We started the month with a visit from Chaplain Wife Amanda Beaudet, and several members of the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. They dropped off many needed items that they collected for our guests, and then they spent some quality time engaging with our guests.

On December 11th, Gabrielle and Marissa, of Yoga +Brunch Club LI Team hosted a pop-up holiday event at BrewSA in Freeport, New York. The event featured a yoga class, brunch, raffles, and a vendor market. A portion of the event ticket sales and the proceeds of the raffles were donated to Bethany House. It was a great time, and after the event, the owners of BrewSA made a generous food donation of canned and boxed goods to our homes. 

The following week, we celebrated the holidays in grand fashion with a holiday party sponsored by Project DM. Leena and her family went above and beyond to show our guests a great time. At an outside venue in Baldwin, New York, our guests enjoyed delicious food, fun, crafts, music, and dancing. Santa made a surprise visit, and every child received gifts from Santa and had the opportunity to take pictures with him. 

We celebrated Hanukkah with Vivian Floch, who engaged with our guests and shared information about the significance of the holiday. Vivian taught about the miracle of the oil, that lasted for eight days, and the importance of lighting the menorah. Vivian brought with her a beautiful menorah that had been in her family for decades, and traditional menorah candles. While the candles burned, we enjoyed delicious jelly donuts from Wall’s Bake Shop, a family-owned, kosher bakery in Hewlett. 

The holiday celebrations continued with Elder Dawn West and her team from Calvary Tabernacle, visiting each of our houses to sing carols and bring stockings filled with gifts to our guests. The Tabernacle is located in Hempstead, New York. 

Just a few days before Christmas, a lovely group of young ladies — Rachel November, a Hofstra University law student, together with her long-time friends from high school, Bianca, Maribel, Rachel, and Gina — dropped off an abundance of household items, food, and books that they collected from their donation drive for Bethany House. After dropping off their items, they toured one of our homes and had the opportunity to meet and engage with some of our guests.

Every year, we hold an Adopt-A-Family program in which our supporters “adopt” a woman, or a woman and her children, and purchase gifts from their Christmas wish list for them to open Christmas morning. This year, over 25 supporters “adopted” our guests and brought much-needed joy to their holidays. We cannot thank our Adopt-A-Family supporters enough. Your kindness and generosity are what the world needs more of! 

And of course, we must also give thanks to Pat Palapoli’s family, who has been providing holiday pajamas to all our women and children for many years. Continuing her late daughter Kristin’s love of holiday pajamas, Pat, along with family and friends, made sure all of our guests had holiday attire for Christmas morning! 

Bethany House was once again the recipient of the Bombas Giving Partners’ generosity and received over 500 women’s tee shirts and underwear for our guests. We shared their generosity and our overflow with other organization in our area, like The Inn in Hempstead, Martin Luther King Center in Rockville Centre, North Shore Soup Kitchen and Micnight Run.  Thank you, Bombas! Learn more about the good they are doing at their website!

Bethany House is so fortunate, all throughout the year, and the holidays tend to bring us even more wonderful individual and corporate donors. During the holiday season, our guests enjoyed many delicious meals and treats, and received much needed household and personal items. 

Bethany House continues to be immensely grateful for our supportive community, and their commitment to our mission and our guests. As we move forward into 2023, Bethany House looks forward to continuing our relationship with our supporters, building connections and fostering stronger partnerships with other organizations in Nassau County that are also doing great work to address the needs of the unhoused in our community. 

We wish you and yours a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2023!

Fall Festivities

Happy Autumn from Bethany House! Autumn is a time for change, back to school, and planting. The start of this season was a busy time for us at Bethany House, as we helped the moms get their children ready to go back to school. Thanks to our amazing community of corporate and individual donors, volunteers, and faith-based organizations, we were able to ensure that every one of the students was well equipped and well dressed for a successful school year.

In September we welcomed four new interns: Stephanie Blackwell, Social Work intern from Molloy University; Kelly Haims, Social Work intern from Fordham University; Gabriela Hernandez, Mental Health Counseling intern from Bellevue University; and our own bi-lingual Case Manager, Jazmine Tavarez-Herrera from Adelphi University. The interns will be working in all of our homes, assisting our guests as needed. We welcome the energy and excitement they bring to our mission. We are also excited about the activities the interns have planned to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

On September 14, 2022, Calvary Tabernacle, in Hempstead, New York, hosted a Pray and Paint event in our home for all of our guests. It was a wonderful event, and we learned of the many hidden artistic talents of our guests. 

For the month of September, Horton’s Flower Farm, in Riverhead, New York, graciously donated to Bethany House a portion of the proceeds from their sales for the month. On September 24, 2022, several members of the Bethany House executive team took a trip to Horton’s, enjoyed the outdoors, and picked and arranged beautiful bouquets. Several of the beautiful bouquets were delivered to each of our homes.

In October, Stop & Shop has once again chosen Bethany House as the recipient of their environmentally-conscious Community Bag Program.  Throughout October, Bethany House will receive $1 for any $2.50 reusable bag purchased at the Merrick Mall store. 

As we move forward into the remaining months of this year, we are looking forward to many celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, thanks to the many generous individuals, groups, businesses and organizations who graciously support Bethany House. We are extremely grateful for the returning supporters and for new supporters we have connected with this year, who are partnering with us to ensure that the women and children in our homes have a joyous holiday season.