Herald Neighbors

Oceanside resident honored at successful fashion show fundraiser for The Bethany House


The Bethany House held its 17th annual fashion show and awards dinner at Rockville Links Club in Rockville Centre on Oct. 17. With about 200 local residents in attendance, the event raised over $12,000 for the organization, celebrated its residents and awarded community members who dedicate time and effort to serving its mission.

Oceanside resident and psychic medium Shira Benedetto was among the evening’s award recipients. About four years ago, Benedetto started hosting the Psychic Experience Fundraiser to benefit Bethany House, a 40-year-old organization that provides shelter and other residential options to women and children struggling with homelessness in Nassau County. The annual psychic reading event has raised about $25,500 for Bethany House since its inception.

Benedetto, a mother, empath and accomplished spiritual healer, received the honor of Outstanding Woman of Compassion and a proclamation from State Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

“The event was so fantastic and lively,” Benedetto said. “I was honored to be there and so surprised and humbled by the award.”

Other honorees included members of South Side High School of Rockville Centre’s club Bethany Buddies, which assists families at the shelter on a weekly basis, and former Bethany House resident Nicole Grant, who owns a business as a process server for the courts system, where she makes efforts to work with Bethany House women.

“I could not have achieved all that I have and be where I am today without the constant help and guidance Bethany House has provided,” Grant said tearfully as she accepted the Outstanding Woman of Achievement award.

According to Sister Aimee Koonmen, the founder and executive director of the Bethany House, the fashion show was all about celebrating the “grace and boundless potential” of the young women that it serves.

Past and present residents donned casual, business and evening wear provided by Ann Taylor Loft in Oceanside and Camille La Vie in Carle Place, hairstyles by StudioTen31 in Baldwin and make up by Donna James of Mary Kay Cosmetics. As they walked the runway, MC Cat Parr announced who they were, what they do for a living, what they were wearing and where they live, to a hooting, hollering crowd.

“This was our best ever fashion show and awards dinner,” Koonmen said. “Our residents were beautiful models, and the energy in the room was so contagious.”

Benedetto said she especially loved being able to connect with the former and current residents of Bethany House and hear their stories.

“It’s wonderful when you work with an organization and you can actually see the fruits of everyone’s labor be brought forward for people who are so deserving and just need that extra help,” she said. “It’s a really beautiful experience to see the faces and success stories of these incredible women and children — it gets you excited to give more and do more.”