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Weis charity to stay in South Bend

Joseph McMahon | Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Despite former Coach Charlie Weis’ firing Monday, his family’s charity organization Hannah and Friends, named after Weis’ daughter, will continue to be headquartered and operate primarily in the South Bend area.

“Our programs will not change,” executive director Sharon Bui Green said. “We realize that there is a mission and a greater good here that we are doing for people with special needs, and [Hannah and Friends] is going to be a permanent place for people with special needs going forward.”

Green said Weis’ position as head coach of Notre Dame never affected the mission of Hannah and Friends, and although he may no longer hold that position, Weis and his wife Maura are fully committed to the organization’s mission.

“Regardless of Coach Weis’ position at the University, we still realize that there is a great need to help out people with special needs and Coach Weis and his wife are still really committed to Hannah and Friends and helping us to further our mission,” she said.

Green said there would be no change in Hannah and Friends’ schedule moving forward, and added the organization is currently working on a holiday gift drive.

“We have a whole room filled with stuff right now, but we could always use more still,” she said. “We’re still serving a tremendous amount of families and a lot of families are directly involved in the organization through involvement in our programs.”

Green also said the organization would continue to operate “the farm,” a 30-acre residential community just north of South Bend “which aims to provide much-needed housing and care services for adult citizens with special needs,” according to the Hannah and Friends Web site.

“This is going to be a permanent place and Hannah and Friends is going to stay,” Green said. “Our mission is still the same. Our mission has not changed and we will continue to serve as many families as possible.”

Although some Notre Dame students may be unhappy with Weis’ record as head football coach, Green said many students are still showing up as volunteers for Hannah and Friends.

“We have Notre Dame students coming tomorrow to help with cooking class,” she said. “So Notre Dame students are still going to be actively involved.”

Ultimately, Green said Weis’ standing at the University never affected his passion for working with Hannah and Friends, and both he and his wife will be actively involved in the organization moving forward.

“This is something [the Weis family] is very passionate about and its not going to go away tomorrow,” she said. “Hannah and Friends has been very fortunate that we have two very passionate founders of the organization.”