By Maryellen Blumlein, SC
Around the turn of the 21st century, three Sisters of Charity moved into a new home at 38 Sunnyside Drive in Yonkers. By the end of summer 2000, they were five. The local community grew to six sisters by the following year and remained that way for several years. Two of the sisters later moved to other local communities, and for several years the “Sunnyside Sisters” remained a community of four.
In 2011, the sisters at Sunnyside began to explore the possibilities of a new ministry. After discussion, prayer, and investigation of existing needs in the area, they decided to open their home as a hospitality house.
The sisters initially offered a quiet place for some College of Mount Saint Vincent (CMSV) students who wanted to spend a reflective weekend away from the noise and density of college life. When a different need became apparent, the sisters decided to offer a home to young women who might need a place to live for a limited time. The sisters invited them to join in their community life in comfortable ways, e.g., meals, prayer, conversation and presence.
The women who came to live at Sunnyside were from different backgrounds. One was a fifth-year nursing student from CMSV. She stayed with the sisters for approximately two years. A member of the Le Gras staff also needed a place to call home for a few months while she waited to occupy her new apartment.
Three CMSV staff members resided at Sunnyside at different times. Two were saving money to move into their own apartment. They lived at Sunnyside for close to a year. One staff member was displaced after a fire in her building but planned to return to her apartment when tenants were authorized to return.
In 2017, the Sunnyside community offered hospitality to a CMSV graduate pursuing post-graduate studies. She lived with the sisters for three years while completing her doctoral degree and is presently well established in her chosen career. In 2018, another Mount grad joined the sisters at Sunnyside as she worked on her master’s degree and was employed full-time at CMSV. Both women had studied to become SC associates during their senior year in college and made their commitments the September following their graduation.
And then, owing to the pandemic, the community was without any young house guests. For the first time in several years, the local community consisted of two Sisters of Charity and their little therapy dog. But the spring of 2021 brought COVID vaccines and the numbers began to decrease, so they welcomed three CMSV graduates. One young woman, an SC associate, is pursuing a nursing degree in the accelerated program at CMSV while continuing to work. The other two young women are 2021 CMSV graduates. One is studying for her nursing license exams while working part time in a nearby hospital. She has also begun the formation process to become an SC associate. The other young woman has begun studies for her master’s degree and is working part time.
The women who have lived at Sunnyside in the past ten years have graced the house with their youthful spirit and sense of community. They have moved on to new jobs and studies, gotten married and started families, or have stayed nearby while advancing their careers.
SC associate Nicole Quaranto speaks fondly of her stay: “If there’s one word to describe the house on Sunnyside Drive, it’s “home.” And not just because it has four walls, a roof, and some bedrooms—but because of the people who make it so special. Sr. Mary Lou and Sr. Mel welcome every single person who walks through the door with open arms and joyful smiles. Whether you’re moving in to stay for a while or just visiting for a prayer or a cup of coffee, you immediately feel the Spirit of Charity around you. Sunnyside Drive is home, and although I may no longer be living in the house, I will always carry the memories I made during my two years there.”
The Sunnyside community hopes that they have provided a welcome and safe place for all who have come to spend time with them. They believe that each person who has stayed at Sunnyside has been blessed and been a blessing. They thank God that, as each person moved on, they did so with confidence in themselves for what lies ahead. They remain connected with those who touched their hearts while sharing their home. The community is grateful to the Congregation for enabling them to continue this ministry and hopes to do so well into the future.