The March 2011 blog post on St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, New York continues to receive the most views and comments. Although my grandfather and his siblings were there in the early 1900s, many residents of that home in the mid 1900s are now searching for friends made at that home.
A recent comment posted was directed at Carmen Velez, who had commented earlier. The request was for information on Eddie and Kathy Brown. I passed the request to Carmen followed by an informative phone conversation with her last evening.
Carmen explained that when children got to the eighth grade, the nuns tried to place the children with local families so they could attend public school in Peekskill, or the children were sent to the Kennedy Home in the Bronx, St. Vincent’s, or group homes in the city until their schooling was finished.
“Volunteer” families were also enlisted to take St. Joseph Home children over weekends. Sometimes this created a strong bond between the children that to today, as in Carmen’s case, still remains.
In 1995 Carman organized the first alumni reunion for St. Joseph’s and Kennedy Home residents. That reunion was held in New Rochelle, New York. In 1996, 250 people, residents of those two homes from 1929-1979 were in attendance. Her database of alumni continues to grow and now each year the first Saturday in April, the reunion is held on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill. If you want to keep apprised of the alumni events, join their Yahoo! group.
To answer the question on Eddie and Kathy Brown, they are not part of the alumni network, though not due to lack of Carmen’s dauntless search for them. Carmen remembers there were four Brown children, and she has a photo of herself with Eileen, Patrick, Eddie and Kathy Brown. Carmen doesn’t know what happened to them, though wonders if they went to a family that could take the four children. If anyone would like to speak with Carmen I can forward her phone number if you send me an email. You can also connect with her at the Yahoo! group website.
Actress Rosie Perez was a resident of St. Joseph’s Home and she has recently written a book about her growing up years that includes her time in Peekskill.
I applaud Carman and her brother Fran for their work on keeping the St. Joseph's Home alumni group growing. This should indicate to the Sisters that their archives are valuable and should be kept for future family researchers.