Sister Simonne Janelle, left and Joanne Lanigra, both of Saco display clothing that will be sold next weekend at a special sale to benefit Esther Residence in Saco. Esther Residence is a transitional program for women who are leaving incarceration or a treatment program. COURTESY PHOTO

SACO — Esther Residence, a transitional facility in Saco for women coming out of incarceration, is planning two fundraisers that will assist them as they continue to support women who want to change their lives.

The facility, located on Thornton Avenue in Saco, is in its 13th year of assisting women in transitioning back into society. The Good Shepherd Sisters work at Esther Residence, along with many volunteers from the area and they welcome women looking to makes changes in their lives upon leaving jail.

Both upcoming fundraisers directly support the residence.

The first event will be a seaside brunch on Sunday at Joseph’s by the Sea in Old Orchard Beach. It begins at noon and features various knitted raffle items donated by Suzanne Pouliot, Pat Sondej and Bergere de France.  

The main event at the fundraiser is the presentation of awards and other honors. The first award will be given to Claudette and Barry Gelfand, generous contributors for many years. Gelfand came up from Florida for the event, and her daughter and siblings will be coming from New Hampshire to attend.

The second honoree is a former resident, who’s now living in Massachusetts. She will speak about her experience at Esther Residence, and then she will be awarded a butterfly pin from Joe Grondin, now deceased. Two or three additional former residents will also speak about what they’re doing now, and they will be awarded pins.  

The second fundraiser for Esther Residence is a clothing sale to be held from noon until 8 p.m. on Friday, May 10 in the ground floor hall of St. Joseph Church in Biddeford. The sale continues from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 11

All of the proceeds from the sale go for direct services for the women at Esther Residence who are working at becoming contributing members of the community.

Esther Residence Director Sister Joanne Roy said the facility provides a safe, nurturing community that is based on safety, respect and dignity and focuses on assisting each woman in identifying and celebrating her strengths and gifts.

“It truly gives them a place coming out of incarceration,” Roy said. “This is part of our mission in the community and the need is there.”

She said Esther Residence is a home that promotes healthy connections to family when appropriate and to the larger community. Its able to house seven women at a time and staff members provide help in obtaining community resources, assistance in securing employment or schooling, and guide residents in developing healthy leisure skills and activities, all within a safe and sober home.

Residents are asked to complete their chore and cooking assignments, meet with a counselor, find a job and pay weekly for their stay, Roy said. They also participate in a weekly house meeting, learn to budget, and learn and practice a new skill. 

Participants also learn to assume responsibility for themselves so they are able to be contributing members of society. 

According to Roy, both upcoming fundraisers will directly support the facility and the women they assist. 

For more information about Esther Residence, call 283-0323 or send an email to [email protected].

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