The Friars Sisters have been entertaining Saint John with an annual fundraising concert for 15 years now.
Each year, the family makes a donation to a different community group and this year they chose the five priority neighbourhoods of Saint John.
“I’m so grateful and I know my family is grateful to be able to call Greater Saint John home, and to be able to work with the people and create that sense of energy and sense of community spirit has just been a wonderful experience,” said Tracy Friars.
“We look forward to continuing to do it.”
But this year is different, and not just because the $71,530.75 is the largest sum they’ve ever raised. On top of a one-time $50,000 donation that will be spread equally between the five neighbourhoods, the remaining $21,530.75 will be used to start an endowment fund for those same communities.
“We had the great privilege over the last 15 years to be involved in community projects and we recognized last year, in our 14th year when we hit the $1 million mark with our fundraising, that it isn’t something we can do forever. We have a few more events left in us I believe, but we wanted to really use our 15th year to establish that legacy,” said Friars.
“We wanted to look at how do we support our community in the best way and establishing the legacy fund … and knowing that it would be used to support priority neighbourhoods in Greater Saint John was really important to us.”
The Friars Family Celebrate Fund will be managed by the Community Foundation and proceeds from future Celebrate events will be added each year.
Kelly Evans, executive director of the Community Foundation, says the money will be used to support different community undertakings each year.
“This is a real legacy for the Friars family,” she said.
“Every donation will be held in perpetuity, never being spent and the annual earnings will grow year after year and the family is going to be directly involved deciding what happens and how we can best support the priority neighbourhoods for the coming years.”
As for what happens to the $50,000 donation, that’s for each of the neighbourhoods to decide individually. After it is distributed, each community will invest it where it sees fit.
“So it could be food security programs, it could be more literacy programs, it could be just people learning to eat better, you know, all kinds things, children’s programs, adult programs,” said Debbie McLeod, a community involvement coordinator with Social Development.
“That money means so much to each neighbourhood because each neighbourhood is a little but unique and the money will be divided up and then they will do so many wonderful things.”
As for how many more times Saint John can expect to see the Friars Sisters take the stage, that remains to be seen. Friars says she thinks they have another couple years left, enough to ensure that the fund lasts long into the future.
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