The Kennedy name has long been associated with devotion to service, good health, and intellectual excellence. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. carried on the family tradition by focusing on living an eco-conscious lifestyle in their rebuilt Bedford home.
Kennedy's wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, an accomplished architect who specializes in green design, was responsible for the energy efficient home, which sacrifices nothing in graciousness and comfort.
On Tuesday evening, the Kennedy family opened their home to the media to promote their environmental cause and to provide a venue for the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester Youth Of The Year Award. This was the first event held in the newly renovated house.
After a devastating flood seven years ago, the Kennedy family discovered that their residence was infected with toxic black mold, which made the children ill. Very little could be saved, so a plan was put into action to completely redo the old farmhouse. What was once an eyesore covered over with aluminum siding has become a lovely, traditional-looking red-brick dwelling and a real showcase for advancing the green style of living.
Kennedy guided the journalists on a tour, starting outside in the backyard.
"Those solar panels keep our house at 59 degrees, winter and summer. We rarely need to heat or cool it beyond the energy we get from the panels," he said.
He continued through the house, pointing out the unique features along the way. Most of the materials in use were salvaged by his wife. The large glass countertop in the kitchen, the wood on the floors and even the marble in the bathrooms were used or recycled materials.
All are seamlessly integrated, and none are recognizable as recycled.
The decor exuded a warmth that was also reflected in the happenings in and out of the house. Kids played on a trampoline outside, a computer screen was in use in the playroom and a friendly mini dachshund cheerfully joined the media tour. There were the usual bangs, scratches and scrapes, and the white duck coverings on the sofas showed signs of use by less than pristine young hands.
The award ceremony celebrated the achievements of the young people who have benefitted from the services at the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco. Award recipient Andrea (Mishel) Alarcon spoke movingly about her situation of being an undocumented alien, the importance of being accepted, and how she found joy in helping others.
Mount Kisco Mayor J. Michael Cindrich is a strong supporter of both Alarcon and the program. Paul Shaffer, bandleader of the Late Show With David Letterman, was on hand to add his praise for the program.
The food was provided by Crabree's Kittle House. Chef Brad McDonald showed the style and artistry that has justifiably made him one of the most respected chefs in our area. Managing partner Glenn Vogt effortlessly coordinated the cocktail hour and meal time, presenting an elegantly delicious repast.
One hallway wall is filled with the pictures and autographs of all the presidents. "Except Grover Cleveland," laughed Kennedy. "He got lost in the move." Campaign posters and memorabilia are displayed in abundance.
Kennedy's remarks drove home the seriousness of the environmental crisis facing our country. "We have to stop relying on coal and nuclear energy. We must understand that our dependency on oil makes us go begging to Saudi Arabia and other countries that are not traditionally all that friendly to democracy," he said.
Editor's note: We have added new pictures of Assemblyman Robert Castelli with this year's award recipients.