Improving lives, improving the community
by Ed Wendell
Feb 12, 2014 | 3415 views | 0 0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 2013 graduates of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center.
The 2013 graduates of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center.
If you take a pebble and toss it into a pond, it will create ripples that will continuously expand outward, impacting the entire body of water, not just the spot where the pebble landed. That’s a good way to describe the deep impact that the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center (SSNDEC) has on our community and our surroundings.

SSNDEC provides a safe and welcoming environment for women to improve their lives. They do this by offering low-cost educational services that teaches them English, helps them receive their GED, improves their computer skills and more.

The good work they do not only changes the lives of the women they teach, but the impact ripples outwards to their children, their families and their community. It’s a wonderful organization and we’re very proud to have it located right here in Woodhaven.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Schools Sisters of Notre Dame are gearing up for their annual Mardi Gras Celebration, which takes place Wednesday, February 26, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Roma View Catering. Tickets are $75 per person and include a full dinner, dessert, and open bar.

This is always a fun event and the Sisters usually have a great bunch of raffle prizes and a couple of fun surprises. Last year there were free psychic readings, as well as an artist who was sketching people. If you would like to support the Sisters, you may purchase tickets by calling (718) 738-0588 or email

The staff at SSNDEC, led by executive director Sister Catherine Feeney, is driven by the conviction that an educated woman can change the world. As an example of this, Sister Cathy shares one of their many success stories with us.

“Jennifer was living on her own at 16. Her mother was in federal prison and she was caring for her younger brother,” she says.

Hour Children, an organization whose mission is to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children referred Jennifer to the School Sisters of Notre Dame. “She enrolled in our GED program, and in three months she flew through the program.”

But Jennifer didn’t only benefit educationally, Sister Cathy tells us.

“She blossomed,” she said. “She cut her first birthday cake ever here. She took the GED test and she aced it. She went on to college and now she’s teaching in the Bronx.”

Now consider that for a moment. Under such conditions, a child with no supervision could easily fall into bad habits that would be harmful to themselves and the rest of their family and, potentially, other members of their community.

Yet, under the guidance of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, this young woman channeled the strength within her to overcome the obstacles she faced. And like the pebble in the pond, the ripple effect expands outward as she now helps young people and helps improve their lives.

Over 600 women have passed through the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center in its 10 years, the vast majority of them within walking distance. The work that the Sisters do undeniably makes Woodhaven a better, richer community.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and is located at 87-04 88th Avenue, right across the street from St. Thomas the Apostle. If you are interested in learning more about SSNDEC, you can always call them and they’ll be happy to answer any questions or even arrange for a tour.

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