The Frances Pope Memorial Foundation started in 1982 with a small circle of friends in the basement of St. Stephen of Hungary Parish in a corner of New York City called Yorkville. Brought on by one family’s tragic loss of their beautiful baby girl, a true cross section of a great city came together -- friends, family, musicians, restaurateurs, clergy, numerous members of the IBEW Local #3 and members of New York’s Finest and Bravest.They all came together not only to honor the memory of Franny Pope, but with the intent of helping other families who were facing the challenges of caring for a child with cancer.
2023 marks our 40th anniversary and we are proud to host our Friendship Ball at that The Lighthouse on Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers, NYC. The Lighthouse offers a unique waterfront venue with sweeping views of the Hudson River and Lady Liberty! But it was not always this way. When Franny lost her fight to cancer, her mother, Mary O’Dowd, and her father, Tony Pope, channeled their grief by raising money for other families. An Irish folk singer by profession, and with overflowing support from the church, family and friends, Mary began making annual performances at high school auditoriums to raise money for other families facing the horror of a sick child and the unexpected and overwhelming expenses that go along with it.
Forty years later, the Frances Pope Memorial Foundation enjoys a committed Circle of Friends that has worked tirelessly and given selflessly to the name of our cause. To date, we have distributed over five million dollars and have been able help over 800 families.
It is important to mention that we are a 98% volunteer-run organization. Without the enduring support of our volunteers, we could not have touched so many lives, nor could we continue to grow. It is through their efforts that we are able to improve families’ quality of life during their children’s illnesses by offering financial resources, friendship, support and empathy.