By Guy Page
A group of friends of Francois Clemmons – known worldwide as the singing policeman on ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood’ and to Vermonters as a performer and faculty member of Middlebury College – has established a GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical care and assisted living in a Middlebury residential retirement community.
The group includes Karl Lindholm, a Middlebury College professor and contributor to the local Addison Independent, and former Vermont Commissioner of Agriculture Paul Stone of Orwell.
“We’re a group of people who’ve known Dr. Francois Clemmons for years and decades — from high school and college, as a performing artist in New York and around the world, and as a faculty member / mentor at Middlebury College,” the page says. “All of us – and millions of others nationwide – have also known him as Officer Clemmons, the Black singing policeman from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. We watched him, our kids were inspired by him, and he became the first African American to have a leading role on national children’s television.”
The group is seeking to raise $100,000. As of this morning, more than $57,000 has been raised.
Together, we are now “Friends of Officer Clemmons” raising funds for him to afford medical care and assisted living in a residential retirement community in Middlebury VT … near friends, extended family and his church congregation,” the page says. “The costs for this kind of retirement community are high for almost anyone. But they are simply not possible for a performing artist like Francois, an openly-gay Black man who — despite his leading role on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — encountered discrimination, struggled financially, and never benefited from legacy privilege or generational wealth.”
The page describes how the funds will be handled:
- All donations will be deposited into a special account to be used exclusively for Officer Clemmons’ medical and retirement care expenses.
- GoFundMe deducts a 2.9% fee from your gift as a one-time transaction fee.
- GoFundMe also suggests a voluntary tip of 15% – but tipping is optional. The tip amount can be changed to 0%.
The ‘Friends of Officer Clemmons’ include:
Adrian Benepe, Brooklyn NY
Andrew Lynch, Astoria NY
Carl Brown, Las Cruces NM
Chuck Dickinson, Watertown MA
Elizabeth Copps, Englewood CO
Jackie Fisher, New York City NY
Jane Beck, Middlebury VT
Jebb Norton, Santa Fe NM
Kathryn Schloff, Middlebury VT
Karl Lindholm, Middlebury VT
Mark Jaffee, Oberlin OH
Nat Carpenter, Beverly MA
Paul & Frances Stone, Orwell VT
W. Marichal Gentry, Durham NC.
Categories: Society & Culture