'What a wonderful world': Dinner raises thousands for community fund

Milford. The Barbara J. Buchanan Fund “supports mini-grants to fund local non-profit community organizations in the arts and culture, basic human needs, health, families, education and the environment.”

30 Oct 2019 | 05:13

Sixty-four people filled the room, all of them the late Barbara Buchanan's adoring friends.

Her spirit filled the room at the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, where several people spoke about her love of Milford, her generosity to the community, her leadership, her sense of humor – and, above all, those marvelous piercing blue eyes that spoke a language all their own. You could always tell what Buchanan was thinking. All you had to do was watch her eyes.

The Barbara J. Buchanan Fund, which in 2013 jump-started the Greater Pike Community Foundation, will be doing good forever. On Oct. 24, Ray Weeks helped to continue that tradition by sponsoring a dinner at the Hotel Fauchere in Milford to celebrate Buchanan (1923-2018), who was his life partner, and to support the fund named in her honor at the Greater Pike Community Foundation. Weeks underwrote the dinner so that 100 percent of the guests' donations would benefit the fund.

The fund “supports mini-grants to fund local non-profit community organizations in the arts and culture, basic human needs, health, families, education and the environment.” Cindy Stine, this year’s recipient, attended the event.

Jim Pedranti, president of the foundation, said Buchanan was the foundation's first honoree in 2014. It was a win-win for the foundation and for her legacy, he said.

Numerous people told “Barbara” stories. MaryAnn Monte, her friend for 30 years, said she considers it “a personal mission to keep Barbara’s legacy alive. She was my mentor.”

Jenni Hamill, the executive director said, “I want to be like her. She is my role model.”

Many of the women said similar things. Lee Oakes read a poem she lovingly wrote titled, “The one, the only Barbara Juel Buchanan." Buchanan's niece talked about the strength of the Juel women.

Weeks, as the host, was also the master of ceremonies. There was a placard with a photo of Buchanan and a list of the recipients of her fund. Weeks played the piano and sang, “It Had to Be You” as a toast to Barbara. He also sang “What a Wonderful World.”

And, indeed, in that moment, it was a wonderful world. Many people filled out the contribution cards and handed them in at the end of the evening. Others will send them in, but Monte said more than $3,000 was raised just that night. Weeks said he hopes to make this an annual event.

If you closed your eyes and listened very quietly, you could almost hear Barbara say, “Mission accomplished!” and see those beautiful blue eyes smiling.

For questions about this fund, or to make a donation, contact Jenni Hamill, executive director, at 570 832 4686 or jennihamill@greaterpike.org, or visit greaterpike.org.

“I want to be like her. She is my role model.” Jenni Hamill, executive director, Greater Pike Community Foundation