AWNY Art Nights at The Dwelling Place

Each year, AWNY chooses a New York charity to support. For the past two years our chosen charity has been The Dwelling Place of NY – a privately funded transitional residence for homeless women run by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

Located in Midtown, the Dwelling Place has provided shelter, sustenance and support to thousands of women since 1977.

At any given time, 15 women call The Dwelling Place home. Each woman gets personalized care, support and guidance to help her build a sustainable, self-supported life. There is no time limit on how long women can stay at The Dwelling Place, meaning women have a place to call their own until they are ready to move on.

This year, AWNY decided to extend our support beyond financial contributions and began to volunteer at The Dwelling Place. On Wednesday evenings, a dinner is held for Dwelling Place residents, former residents now in permanent housing, elderly neighbours living on fixed income and women living on the streets. Once a month after this dinner, the AWNY team has been holding an “art night”.


AWNY volunteer, Tanya McCaw, chats to a resident during art night.

Led by our resident artist Jacinta Stewart, the AWNY team brings art materials, ranging from watercolours to adult colouring books. The idea is that art provides an opportunity for self expression, creativity and even meditation.

Doing art can contribute to psychological well-being, yet for many women on the streets and in shelters, they do not have the opportunity or resources to create or enjoy this type of activity.

The team has been overwhelmed by the level of interest the women of the The Dwelling Place have shown in the art nights, with over 20 women participating each time. The talent in the room has also blown us away, although for those who are not artists, Jacinta is on hand to provide helpful hints (some members of the AWNY team need this the most).

But most of all, we have loved getting to know these fascinating, warm women who have opened up to us with their stories and with whom we have shared many laughs.

Join us for the Fall Gala

If you would like to support The Dwelling Place, their annual Fall Gala will be held on 19 October 2017. You can find information on how to buy tickets here.

We would love it if you could join the AWNY team for what promises to be a great night in support of an amazing cause.


One resident’s masterpiece.

Event Review: The Emotional Transition of Moving to NYC


Just a few weeks ago, AWNY Committee Member and counsellor Susie Lang, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a National Certified Counselor, facilitated an event series focused on working through the Emotional Transition of Moving to New York.

Given the emotional nature of the event, some attendees who came said they had been thinking about it many times before committing, as they had an ‘inkling’ that they wanted to be there. There was a really great group of women who gathered, all at different stages of their New York transition, starting from 2 weeks up to several years. It really demonstrates that Australian women need support and want to talk about their experience of ‘transition’ and ‘culture’ even after a long time in the USA.

One reasons I like being a part of AWNY is the familiar background we all have, I have this reassuring feeling that everyone is already my friend. It’s as if we have all known each other for years as a result of our shared cultural experience growing up in Australia.

I observed the same reassurance throughout this event; the majority of the attendees had not met before, yet were contributing with such vulnerability and honesty about a difficult topic. It was an expression closer to one shared between trusted friends, rather than strangers. This style of event, for me, was a really fantastic way to cut through the bullshit and talk about some of the more isolating aspects of living in this fabulous city.

Susie, our facilitator, did a great job of introducing the purpose of the session and walking the women through the stages of culture shock and the different feelings that arise through the transition process. Susie guided the conversation lightly by summarizing some of the stories we were hearing and giving them context.

The 3 different types of ‘Shock’ common to transition to a new country and culture are summarized below for those of you who couldn’t make it:

Culture Shock – four stages

  • Honeymoon Stage – WOW, this is all new and exciting
  • Disintegration Stage – starting to feeling unsettled, and maybe a little hostile. What we know as homesickness (a period of transition & healing) starts to settle in, along with feelings of incompetence, and being dissatisfied. You can also start to feel isolated and alone and question “what’s wrong with me?”
  • Adjustment Stage – the encouraging beginnings of a new sense of direction.
  • Adaptation Stage – now feeling increasingly confident in new surroundings and adapting well to the nuances of NYC.

Re-Entry Shock

  • There is transition when returning home to Australia.
  • Readjusting to our “old” culture where there is an expectation that life will be the same as when you left.
  • The challenge is that you’ve changed and also others have changed in your absence.


  • This is about the “Who am I?” question that comes up when you moved to a new city or country.
  • In our birth countries, we grow up knowing the social norms and standards, and at home we have mirrors (our family and friends) to validate and affirm us when we are unsure.
  • Within our new environment our mirror no longer exists as well as our familiar societal norms and standards.
  • So in asking the question “Who am I?”, our new surroundings are now asking “Who are you?” which can sometimes be tricky to feel confident answering.

Within the ‘safe space’ of the event, the attendees opened up straight away and shared their feelings in response to the stages of shock. Each transition story was unique, and yet there were so many similar threads of experience and emotion – summoning agreement within the group!

This has been my favorite event so far! And one that I believe has helped not only give these women a chance to express these feelings, but a real chance to help themselves and form meaningful friendships – there was lots of swapping phone numbers at the end of the session.

Further Exploration

Following on from this event, Susie Lang will be offering additional “On the Sofa with Susie” workshops for a deep dive exploration into Culture Shock, Self-Shock and how to take steps towards personal healing. These events are open to the AWNY community and more details will be available soon.

On the Sofa with Susie Workshop Series:

Dates: Wed Nov 30th, Wed Dec 7th, Wed Dec 14th, Wed Dec 21 2016

Morning Session: 9.30-11.30am Location W60th Street
Cost:$80 for 4 sessions

Evening Session: 7pm-9pm Location TBD
Cost: $100 for 4 sessions

Please contact Susie Lang to book your place now
Tel:  (917) 494 3922


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Event: Fall Gala for The Dwelling Place of NY, October 20, 2016

Join AWNY in supporting The Dwelling Place of NY, AWNY’s chosen charity for 2016, at its annual Fall Gala. With our tables decked out in Australiana, the night promises to be a whole lot of fun for a wonderful cause. Read on below for details and to learn more about The Dwelling Place.


Event details

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2016
Time: 6.00pm – 9.00pm
Location: Saints Cyril and Methodius Hall, corner of 41st Street and 10th Avenue, New York
Cost: $100 per person, 100% of which will go directly to The Dwelling Place, plus a $6 booking fee through Eventbrite
Nature of event: The Gala will be a simple church hall style gathering, with everything from decorations and raffle prizes to food and wine donated
RSVP: We’ve set up a two-step process to ensure you are part of a guaranteed table before you are asked to pay any money:

  • First, make an ‘AWNY Table’ RVSP via the form below to reserve a spot at one of our tables. If you are coming with a partner or group of people you’d like to sit with, please include the name of all people in the comments area.
  • Then, we will let you know when we have the required 10 people to make up a table and invite you to buy your ticket on Eventbrite


AWNY’s 2016 Charity: The Dwelling Place of NY

AWNY’s chosen charity for 2016 is The Dwelling Place of NY: a privately funded transitional residence for homeless women run by The Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY. Located in Midtown, The Dwelling Place has provided shelter, sustenance and support to thousands of women since 1977. Their safe, healing, and structured environment offers women the space and time to develop a sustainable plan for building a healthy, independent lifestyle.

This year’s Gala is dedicated to the memory of Sister Margaret Boyle, beloved by the Dwelling Place community, who recently passed away.

Visit the website to read more about their wonderful work: