Frying for funds

Fish fries provide Greene churches and fire departments will essential income

Every Friday between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, churches and fire departments across Greene County host fish fries. These fries are fundraisers to provide a source of income for these organizations. According to people affiliated with St. Marcellus Church, Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department, Richhill Township Volunteer Fire Department and the St. Ann’s Knights of Columbus Council, their success with fish fries are essential to their financial security. 

For St. Marcellus, The Rev. Francis Frazer said their fish fry is a social event that brings the church and Jefferson, Pennsylvania closer together. The church has hosted their fish fry for around 16 years, Frazer said. Since the church joined the St. Mathias parish on July 1, the fry is the only major fundraiser the church hosts. 

“We could make do without it, but it’s a big help,” Frazer said.  

For 15-16 years, the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Ann’s Church has hosted their fish fry.  Barry Nelson, the financial secretary for the council, said the money goes into the council’s general fund. During the fish fry, the council sells pasta fazool and donates the earnings to the Heart and Sole organization.

“[The fries’ income] is almost a third of our annual budget,” Nelson said.

Ron Virgili, a volunteer at the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department, said their fish fries’ earnings are used to keep the department operational. Virgili said, since volunteer fire departments have trouble financially, their fish fry benefits the Jefferson Fire Department. 

“A lot. I don’t know how much per se. It does help us,” Virgili said. “It takes a lot to keep the doors  of a volunteer fire company open.”

The Richhill Township Volunteer Fire Department, much like the Jefferson Department, relies on their fish fry, explained Kimbery Rohm, captain of the Richhill Township Volunteer Fire Department. Rohm said the department uses the funds to purchase equipment and help pay bills. 

“We have other income, of course, but it helps a lot. I would say about 50%,” Rohm said.