Julie Chen Among Alumni From St. Francis Prep Stepping in to Help Students Make Tuition During COVID

Tags: Currents Catholic Education, Coronavirus, Crux, Faith, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY, St. Francis Prep High School, World News

By Jessica Easthope

From the outside St. Francis Prep looks like an ordinary high school, the people who have walked its halls are anything but.

“I am so proud of our alumni and what they are doing for the current population,” said Brother Leonard Conway, the President of St. Francis Prep.

Brother Conway’s job has changed dramatically over the last few months.

“The idea came about because of a number of phone calls we were receiving from parents saying they were already experiencing financial difficulty because of Coronavirus, several have lost jobs,” said Brother Leonard.

That’s when he made decision that would change lives, it did for Allison, a parent with two children at the school.

“It’s a blessing we never thought would happen,” Allison said.

After Allison’s husband contracted coronavirus in March, she found herself not knowing how she would pay the $10,000 tuition to keep her kids in the school they love so much.

“I reached out to Brother Leonard to say we might need a little time, my husband now is out of work, I have a business of 20 years that’s closed down and here we were in 5 weeks our whole world just fell apart,” Allison said.

Brother Leonard didn’t give her time, he gave her something more: he told her don’t worry about it.

“I said to Brother Leonard this phone call you made to me is life-changing and there’s no way to even thank someone for that,” Allison said.

Borne out of the need of so many Prep families came the TerrierSTAR Fund, a way to collect donations from alumni to keep children in the school, even if their parents have lost jobs or are suffering financially. Some donations came in and then one Prep graduate stepped up in a big way.

“I don’t want any kid not being able to return to Prep in the fall because of a lack of funds, that’s just not going to happen,” said Julie Chen, CBS anchor and host of Big Brother.

Julie made an offer that showed she’s never let go of the Franciscan values she learned at Prep.

“I will match every single donation, there’s no cap on this,” Julie said.

Julie said the inspiration to help started back in her Prep days.

“That Good Samaritan story that I first read about and studied when I was a sophomore at St Francis Prep has come full circle now,” Julie said. “And that will always stay with me.”