Tony Robbins Saves SF Nuns’ Humble Soup Kitchen With Generous Donation

When business coach and media star Tony Robbins learned of the Fraternite Sisters' situation, he flew to San Francisco and saved their soup kitchen.

Credit: / The Chronicle

Credit: / The SF Chronicle

For the past eight years, two nuns in San Francisco have been feeding the homeless in one of the sketchiest locations in the city. Their only income has been to sell homemade baked goods on the weekends, and they’ve been able to save costs by sleeping in the back of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen. 

Though they’ve lived simply, it’s been difficult for the sisters to manage the month’s rent of $3,465. And in January, the situation became even more complicated.

Early in 2016, the nuns’ landlord increased rent by almost 60% – to $5,500. He gave them the option to pay it or get out.

Taking the advice of a pro bono lawyer, Sister Marie Benedicte and Sister Marie Valerie refused the demand. Of course, they realized that it was only a matter of time before they might be sleeping on the streets like the hundreds of homeless people they feed each week.

Which is why the Sisters turned to the media for help. Thanks to a piece published in the The Chronicle, the public learned about the devastating situation and began fundraising through a few different crowdfunding sites.

One campaign raised over $10,000 in a few days! But it was a substantial donation from an unlikely benefactor that really saved the Sisters’ philanthropic business.

When business coach and media star Tony Robbins was made aware of the Sisters’ situation, he secretly flew to San Francisco to speak with sisters and the lawyers.

Credit: The Chronicle, SF Gate

Credit: Lea Suzuki, The SF Chronicle

On Friday, a deal was struck that will allow the soup kitchen at 54 Turk St. to stay for a year at their current rent. The best part? The landlord won’t try to evict them. 

“This is wonderful — now we don’t have to be in the street,” Sister Mary Valerie said when informed of the deal.

Tony Robbins, whose gregarious smile and 6’7” build makes him stand out in any crowd, is best known for his infomercials and books, in which he urges fans to find the power within and become successful.

He makes millions from advising presidents and CEOs and, as it turns out, has a soft spot for feeding the impoverished. 

Such isn’t surprising, as Robbins didn’t have the easiest start in life. As a teenager, Tony’s family was poor and living on the streets. In his seminars, he often talks about how a stranger once gifted his hungry family a basket of food.

The generosity prompted him, when he was older and experiencing financial abundance, to create a personal foundation. Among other things, the foundation – which serves 2 million people worldwide – gives clothing and food to the poor. Every year, Robbins and his wife match that to assist 4 million total. 

Credit: The Chronicle, SF Gate

Credit: Lea Suzuki, The SF Chronicle

As is evident, the lovable giant has a soft heart and an even better attitude. At the end of Friday’s meeting, he handed the sisters a check for $25,000.

In addition, he plans on gifting them another $25,000 within the next year to move to a different location. He said that if he needs to, he will get in touch with some of his high-powered friends in San Francisco to help find that location.

“We need to find a solution here where everyone involved can feel OK about it,” Robbins said. “I have a lot of resources. I can help.”

Mr. Patel, the landlord, was away on business. He and his lawyer are glad the situation worked out in everyone’s’ best interest (which was Robbins’ intent) and says that Tony is to be commended.

Robbins will be working with the nuns to strategize their pastry business and ensure long-term success in their endeavors. He laid out his three-step plan in the same manner he’s done for former President Bill Clinton and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff – direct, cheerful and concise.

Credit: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

Credit: Lea Suzuki, The SF Chronicle

“You could get a celebrity chef in here to help, and I know a few of those,” Robbins told them. “You can have more organizations help with food, and I work with those. You do a beautiful thing here. … Let’s figure out how you can do more of what you do.”

The nuns, of course, were extremely grateful for his assistance.

When Sister Mary Valerie heard the news, she asked: “No more crying for us no more?” in her thick French accent.

Robbins responded: “No more crying no more,” and kissed her hand.

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