A mission to serve.
A message of hope.
Learn More


In 1959 Father Edwin “Fred” Frederick, a young priest from Grand Rapids, was assigned to the Traverse City State Hospital as its Catholic chaplain.

With a big heart and much compassion, he served the residents of the State Hospital for 30 years. For many of the patients, Father Fred was as much a therapist as he was a chaplain; one of the things for which Father Fred is most remembered was his immense ability to listen. “Patients respond to me because I follow the Golden Rule,” Father Fred once said. “I treat them as I would like to be treated.”

When the state closed the hospital in the summer of 1989, Father Fred was very concerned for “his people” as he knew that many of the residents, without a place to go, would likely end up lost and in some cases, homeless or with little hope. That is when Father Fred, together with a handful of supporters, brainstormed how he could still minister to those who needed him, those who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

In December of 1989, The Father Fred Foundation was formed with the mission “to simply help the helpless, the homeless, and the distressed in the Traverse City area.” At his new foundation, Father Fred tirelessly listened, cared, and shared what he could, giving freely of his time, energy, and resources to help those in need in our area. He made it a point to meet with each family or individual personally, offering a little love to go along with the physical assistance, be it food, clothing, or financial help. By his side was a squadron of volunteers and a board of directors, all driven by the same desire to help those who couldn’t help themselves.

In 1991, barely a year after The Father Fred Foundation was founded, Father Fred received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce. That same year, he also received the celebrated “1000 Points of Light” award, which was established by President George
Bush in recognition of those who set a shining example of dedication to the service of others.

When Father Fred passed away on January 4, 2000, the entire community mourned. The headline on the front page of the Traverse City Record Eagle summed up his life’s work best: “TC’s ‘Mother Teresa’ leaves lasting legacy.” No words had ever rung truer to those whose lives he touched.

Today, many still keep his light going in much the same way that Father Fred did. The work of The Foundation is still carried out primarily by our compassionate and dedicated group of volunteers, a small staff, and a board of directors.

We know Father Fred is smiling down on each of us and on the community that continues to watch over “his people.” There is a little Father Fred in each of us and through us, his legacy lives on.

WE WILL BE CLOSED the week of July 1-5 for building maintenance. We will reopen July 9.

Skip to content