The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

A party for Sister Elaine


By EVE MARX
Laura Beth Gilman, Sister Elaine Roulet, Lee Roberts and Susan Polos.
 

 It was eight months ago when the devastating storm known as Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Breezy Point home of Sister Elaine Roulet, the Sister of St. Joseph nun who spent 36 years working at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, the maximum-security prison for women, located in Bedford Hills. On Sunday, April 14, at 1:00 p.m., about 75 people gathered for an afternoon party at the Katonah home of Lee Roberts for a housewarming party to help Roulet put her home back together.

The guest list was comprehensive. There were volunteers from the prison’s Children’s Center; Providence House; the summer program; peer-led classes started years ago by Sister Elaine; Hour Children; Our Journey; those involved with the college programs and friends from My Mother’s House. Several former inmates came as well.
Sister Elaine Roulet opening gifts.
 

According to Susan Polos, who helped organize the party, Roulet began her work with the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in 1970. One of her first roles was to found the Host Family Program.

“In 1980 she became founder and executive director of Providence House, Inc., affiliated with Catholic Charities, which includes multiple sites offering shelter for battered women and families, homeless women, temporary housing for women released from prison and more,” Ms. Polos said.

According to Ms. Polos, Roulet started Hour Children in 1986. The organization has recently assumed charge of the Children’s Center at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, taking over from Catholic Charities. When she retired in 2005, after more than 35 years at the correctional facility, Roulet founded Our Journey, devoted to helping formerly incarcerated women transition to life on the outside.

Guests described Roulet’s legacy to the prison as profound. In her three-plus decades there she created multiple programs connecting incarcerated parents with their children on-site. Her efforts were critical in fueling the prison reform movement. Her work ensured that inmates who were mothers would become educated not only academically, but also in parenting and communication. When the AIDS epidemic struck, she demanded inmate counseling and fact-finding. It was through her work that the Children’s Center came into existence, a place for children to visit their mothers on a regular basis. Eventually she conceived of a program in which every summer inmates’ children could spend a week at the homes of Bedford residents, visiting their mothers during the day and returning in the evening to be with their host families.

Over quiche, salad and at least six different homemade cakes, guests mingled and chatted until the guest of honor arrived.

Others spoke before Roulet. Ms. Polos introduced guests who traveled far for the celebration, including a volunteer from Massachusetts and Bailey Jackson, who came from the Catskills (the Thea Jackson Memorial Fund is donating to Roulet’s rebuilding fund and provided many gifts from her registry. She is registered at Target as well as Bed, Bath & Beyond). Suzanne Kessler, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Purchase College, read a poem written for the occasion by Judy Clark. An event is being held in support of clemency of Ms. Clark, who Roulet championed, at the Katonah Village Library on April 25, at 7 p.m.

Finally, Roulet herself spoke.

She began by saying that she had recently received a letter through Catholic Charities from a young woman who said she’d been part of the host family program years ago and wanted to thank Roulet. Roulet then asked everyone in the room to hold hands. She said in the room was a circle of men and women who come to God, “And it is not important how, only that we do,” she said.

Ms. Polos and her husband Jim are on the board of Our Journey. Another organizer of the party was Laura Beth Gilman, who, with her husband Dan, is on the board of Hour Children, initiated at the prison by Sister Tesa Fitzgerald. Lee Roberts, who hosted the event, was in 1997 a founding member of the Center for Redirection Through Education along with the late Thea Jackson and others, including former warden Elaine Lord.


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APRIL 19, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


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  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

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  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

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