While studying abroad in Dunedin, New Zealand, social work major, Alyson Courtney ’17, had the opportunity to participate in Dunedin Night Shelter’s annual Sleep Out event. This event is held to raise awareness and funds for the night shelter. To raise awareness of homelessness, the community comes together, builds shelters out of cardboard boxes and tarps and sleeps in the city center. Alyson Courtney volunteered at the Dunedin Night Shelter and as part of her role she served as a leader for this event.
Volunteering at the Dunedin Night Shelter was a humbling experience for Alyson. Most of the individuals told her how they ended up in the shelter. Most of the guests have family and loved ones who are trying to help them get on their feet, but do not have the means. The individuals at the shelter range from those who have lost their jobs and can’t afford rent to those who have acquired a home, but cannot afford groceries. The shelter provides individuals with food, a bed, and a place to wash up, while trying to create a safe and welcome environment.
Alyson helped with fundraising and publicity before the event began. The day of the event, she helped set up space. She convinced 10 BCA Study Abroad students and their flatmates to attend. They were the only international group at the event. This led them to wind up on the front page of the local newspaper! In addition to locals, a few homeless people Alyson knew came to support the event as well. It was an interesting night Alyson will never forget!
*Click on the hyperlinks above to learn more about the Dunedin, New Zealand program and to read Alyson’s original blog published by BCA Study Abroad on August 3, 2016.