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Patmos Associates, Ltd.

Award Recipients - 1998

Dr. James W. Bergland, Founder

www.patmoshospitality.org

Dr. James W. Bergland founded Patmos Associates, Ltd. In 1982 as a nonprofit resource-development organization to assist local groups in upstate prison towns as they respond to the gateside needs of families visiting incarcerated love ones.  The organization takes its name from Patmos, an island in the Aegean Sea that in the first century was a Roman prison colony.  At Patmos, an inmate name John wrote letter of his vision of a better world.  These were later assembled as “The Book of Revelation” in the New Treatment and became a source of hope to communities coping with apparent hopelessness.  

Recognizing that the family is an important long-term resource for inmates, Patmos has focused on responding to the needs that families face as they arrive at and depart from a prison’s front gate by creating a network of 36 gateside hospitality centers throughout New York State’s 70-facility prison system.  Building on the latent culture of hospitality in distant towns, Patmos recruits local civilian volunteers to run the centers, which are open from 7 am until 4 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and other peak visiting days.  

Every week, more than 10,000 family members from seven New York City neighborhoods (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Crown Heights, East New York, Harlem, South Jamaica/Queens and the South Bronx) make overnight bus trips to visit an imprisoned son or daughter, father or mother, husband or wife.  Twenty percent of visitors are children, half of whom are under four years old.  
Each year, new gateside center open to provide transitional shelter, refreshments and problem-solving assistance.  By reducing obstacles that visitors face at the prison gates, the goal is to preserve and strength family life.


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