GTPulse: Father Fred Foundation Now Supplies Free Hugs

Father Fred Foundation is a community staple in Traverse City. The foundation has been around since 1989 and helps people in the community who need it. The foundation wouldn’t run without volunteers and one volunteer, Fred Pulaski makes sure that everyone who visits Father Fred’s receives a hug if they need one.

Asking for help is hard, Even as children we’re insistent on doing things ourselves. Life gets difficult for everybody at some point and Father Fred’s is a place to go when you need to ask for help. I had heard about Father Fred’s since joining local community Facebook group Spark In The Dark. Spark In The Dark is another place local community members can go to ask for help and Father Fred’s comes up often on post responses. A person posting about needing a cheap car for purchase was encouraged to contact Father Fred’s, as well as a parent who needed shoes for their child. I had never been to Father Fred’s until I went this past Tuesday to see the foundation and to meet the kind volunteer.

Elaine Keaton, advancement manager walked me around the foundation and showed me all the wonderful things that they do. Beyond the waiting room is a small market with fruits, vegetables, nonperishables, bread and other grocery items. Each customer walks around the small market and takes what they need for themselves and their families. Many of the food items are donated to the foundation.

“We get a lot of things from farmers, we get a lot from farmers markets,a lot of things we buy. Typically the fruits and produce are donated this time of year. We also work with Food Rescue, they’re a division of Goodwill of Northern Michigan and they rescue food from restaurants and grocery stores and farmers and they bring it to various food pantries. We’re actually the largest food pantry in the area.”

Another door beyond the food pantry is a small clothing shop. Volunteers sift through donated clothing items and then display them out on the floor like a store. There is also another room where lunches are made for students who need a lunch to eat at school.

“We don’t have to ask if you make enough money or do you really need food? Why would we do that? If you tell us you’re hungry, we’re gonna feed you.”

And if you’re in need of a hug, Fred Pulaski will hug you. I innocently asked if he was Father Fred to which he laughed and responded, “Well, no, but I have four daughters so I am a father!”

The Traverse City local has been volunteering at the Father Fred Foundation for 10 years and got the idea to offer free hugs to customers from a post he found on Facebook. He reached into his pocket and took out a folded piece of paper he had printed out.

“I don’t know who put this thing on there but it says, ‘Sometimes in life we just need a hug. No words, no advice, just a hug to feel you matter.’”

Fred was born and raised in Detroit and spent his career as a clerk for the United States Postal Service. Fred, who has been widowed three times, had four children with his first wife of 27 years. He has lived all over the United States and finds joy in volunteering at Father Fred’s as well as at other local churches.

He still lives in the big house he loved with his late third wife Cheryl off of Cedar Run Road.

“My daughter told me it’s too big and it’ll be too much work to keep up, but Cheryl decorated it so beautifully and she loved it here, so I’m keeping it. I’ve been managing it just fine.”

Managing his home, and his social life. Fred is at Father Fred’s every Tuesday, says he gives out around 20 to 25 hugs every time he is there and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“As long as I’m above the green, I’ll be giving out hugs.”


Categories: GTPulse