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West Hartford Jazz Students Choose Friends of Feeney for Benefit Concert

‘Jazz for a Cause’ will support Friends of Feeney at the concert scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 6.

By Lori Beste

Since the fall of 2015, until the pandemic, Hall High School’s award-winning Concert Jazz Band has chosen a charitable organization to support at an annual “Jazz for A Cause” concert at Trinity-on-Main on 69 Main St. in New Britain, CT. This year the students are performing this concert for the first time since 2019, and they are especially excited to announce that Friends of Feeney, a West-Hartford based grassroots nonprofit, will benefit from donations received at the door.

Hall High School’s Jazz Band II, and the King Philip and Bristow middle school jazz bands will join the Concert Jazz Band for this concert on Sunday, Nov. 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Concert Jazz Band pianist Avery Allen said, “We chose Friends of Feeney because it’s based in our community and some of the students knew Mr. Feeney, and they were familiar with the charity.”

Alex Steinberg, trumpeter in Concert Jazz Band, concurred. Steinberg has known Feeney for many years and considers him “just such a kind, genuine, warm-hearted person.” A few of the students knew families who had been helped by Friends of Feeney and recognized how much time Feeney spends helping people. According to Steinberg, the band members decided that “the more help we can give to him (Feeney), the more help he can give back to the community.”

Friends of Feeney was created in 2017 after Wolcott Elementary School third grade teacher Eric Feeney experienced heartbreak firsthand when the father of one of his students died unexpectedly. Feeney shared the family’s shock and grief and felt a strong desire to do something to ease their suffering. Recognizing their financial need and also that so many friends and community members wanted to offer support, Feeney looked into starting a GoFundMe page for the family. However, he noticed that 2.9% plus thirty cents of each donation would go toward transaction fees. Friends of Feeney has no need to charge transaction fees because it has no overhead costs; all collected donations go directly to recipients. So Feeney created his own charitable giving organization and the generous support to our community continues.

Coworkers, neighbors, and other community members alert the Friends of Feeney organization when tragedies happen in West Hartford, such as house fires, flooding, and deaths that cause unexpected financial suffering in addition to the tremendous loss of life or property, and then they begin to assess needs and provide support. At times, local businesses have also partnered with Friends of Feeney to provide assistance and support recipients.

Running Friends of Feeney is a labor of love for Eric Feeney. “I love to live and work in West Hartford where there’s a strong community and people support each other,” he said.  The motto at Friends of Feeney is #BeAGoodFriend, which he notes can result from simple gestures like picking up trash, holding the door for someone, giving a compliment, or simply being charitable. With generous charitable giving from this community, Friends of Feeney has so far raised over $85,000 and helped 26 families in West Hartford.

Upcoming events for Friends of Feeney include a Toy Drive on Dec. 10 at SockStarz on LaSalle Road in West Hartford and a Hartford Wolfpack game fundraiser on Feb. 3, 2023. Friends of Feeney was also chosen as the Clover Club Charity of 2023 by the popular Johnny’s Jog for Charity. Go to friendsoffeeney.com to learn more about this great organization.

Please join the jazz bands at Trinity-on-Main Sunday Nov. 6 to support the students who want to use their music to make a difference in the lives of those who have suffered tragedy. Eric Feeney will be on hand to discuss the organization he started in 2017. The students are excited to perform in this beautiful venue and to bring people together to hear some great music and as they learn about this great cause.

Cash donations to support Friends of Feeney will be accepted at the door. Donations can also be made online through Venmo: @HallHighBandBoosters; type “Jazz for A Cause” in the “what’s it for” space.

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