Students in the Psychology concentration of the BA in Liberal Studies program used applied community psychology theory and nonprofit management skills that they learned in their Psychology of Bullying class to host a designer clothing drive for men living with HIV and struggling to meet their basic needs. The students secured over 1,000 pieces of high-end and designer clothing and accessories which were handed out at an event they hosted at Being Alive West Hollywood.
“This experience was truly education put into activist motion,” said class instructor Michael Anthony-Nalepa, MA. “A great portion of the course I teach is combating marginalization and oppression through social action. Every student unanimously decided to put these ideas into motion, not just take about them but actually practice them in the real world…and that’s how this clothing drive was born!”
Helmed by students Sandra Villafan, Rozi Hersey and Matthew Tester (along with 13 of their Antioch classmates), the students spent multiple Friday evenings coordinating on campus until closing. They met with and asked advice from nonprofit leaders about hosting the event, obtained food donations for a fully-catered lunch from local businesses, and even worked to have the 2017 line of many major designer clothing brands donated to the event.
Explains Nalepa: “The reason we made this drive about designer clothing brands was because we wanted these men to have a unique experience. Many of your standard clothing drives have a ‘Take what we give you!’ mentality, but we wanted these men to receive items with a personal touch. That’s how you help people re-write their story. You show them your listening.” He adds: “And whether that be done with a catered lunch or a Prada trench coat, so be it!”
Throughout the day, students acted as “personal shoppers,” helping the men not only build a new fall and winter wardrobe but getting to know each other on a personal level. The event was as much about conversation and connection as it was about fashion.
Ultimately, the students clothed 58 men in a 13-piece wardrobe. The event also included a high-end raffle, a fully catered lunch, an outdoor games “carnival,” mindfulness and meditation groups, and even treats and pampering for the service animals.
As student Kornia Cortez summed up the event: “This was a day of compassionate that truly brought our education to life!”