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Slowly and surely, women get back on feet thanks to sister-run program

Sisters Joanne Roy, Simone Janelle and Lucille Gardner, nuns of the Good Shepherd Sisters, run the Esther Residence, a residential home for women released from incarceration, in Saco. For 14 years, the Esther Residence has been helping women who have been incarcerated get back on their feet.

Esther Residence is a program of Good Shepherd Sisters that opened in July 2006. When Good Shepherd Sisters began a strategic planning process 13 years ago, Roy said the Sisters decided to sell a large property they owned at Bay View Beach and open the transitional program for recently incarcerated women. “It was why we were founded as the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec over 150 years ago – to help women coming out of jail,” Roy said.

To help establish routines and responsibility, the women at Esther Residence are given points for accomplishing tasks such as attending meetings and completing household chores. Once a week, they may redeem points to purchase items from a “store” of donated items.

The women who live there, however, say that Esther Residence is more than a home: It teaches them the basic skills for living and in some cases even saved their lives. One resident said she has learned skills such as budgeting, how to pay bills and establishing routines that have helped her recover from drug addiction.

To find out how to contribute to the Esther Residence, contact the Sisters at royjoanne59@gmail.com (207)-283-0323

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