'Do small things with great love.'
This Mother Teresa quote is a favorite of Joanne Friday, and it’s how she and her husband, Richard, have chosen to lead their lives.
"More people need to realize the joy of giving. It feels good to be able to help somebody,” Joanne Friday believes.
Born in Appalachia, she shares, “I come from a long line of very poor people. But my family was very generous. My grandmother had the belief that everything we have is on loan, and she was always helping others. That’s where I learned the joy of giving.”
Richard, who was born in Minneapolis and grew up outside Philadelphia, continues, “We’re very lucky to have what we have now and to be where we are. There are so many people who do not have a lot and need help.” The couple estimates that they annually support more than 50 nonprofit organizations.
Through a donor advised fund they established at the Foundation in 2017, they have taken a different approach to their giving. They have annually recommended that the dollars they have available to grant go to our Fund for Rhode Island, through which Foundation staff and board make innovative, effective grants to meet Rhode Islanders’ must pressing needs.
“The mission of the Foundation is in alignment with our values, with a focus on education, health, and economic security. And the Foundation is looking for ways for people to have more equality. I think that’s critical,” Joanne says.
“The Foundation has been doing good things for many years, studying and researching the best ways to solve problems in the community. We see the same problems in society. They can’t be solved by one entity, but we need someone to coordinate efforts, and that’s a role we see the Foundation playing,” Richard states.
“I love when people take it upon themselves to do things. The Foundation encourages and supports those people,” Joanne notes.
Joanne and Richard both came to Rhode Island to attend college. Richard graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a double major in biology and English before beginning a career with the U.S. Postal Service in Newport. He now is retired. Joanne earned both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree from Rhode Island school of Design. Her career has taken her from teaching to working as a professional sculptor to school counseling. She presently is a Dharma teacher and leads meditation retreats throughout the Northeast.
The teaching and leading of meditation retreats, Joanne explains, “is the way I have to contribute. Richard and I both have always been interested in helping people get along with each other. We don’t see much difference from what’s out there (in society) with what’s in here (inside ourselves). Where we place our minds determines our experiences. We try to give people the tools to go out and do good things and to be at peace with each other.”
They are, indeed, doing small things with great love.