Philanthropist Doris Buffett no longer lives in Fredericksburg, but the woman known as the “Sunshine Lady” will continue making admission to the city’s pool free to its residents.
Her Sunshine Lady Foundation’s board of directors has selected The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region to manage a new $1 million designated charitable fund. It will be used to continue covering city residents’ user fees for the Doris E. Buffett Pool, which was renamed in her honor in 2016.
“The Sunshine Lady Foundation has been remarkably generous over many years. We are honored that the board selected The Community Foundation to carry out Ms. Buffett’s best intentions for our community for years to come,” Christine Repp, president of The Community Foundation’s board of governors, said in a news release.
Fredericksburg’s Parks, Recreation & Events Department had planned to charge city residents a fee each time they used what was originally called the Dixon Park Pool when it opened in 2006. Then Buffett stepped in, donating $61,000 to cover what the city estimated it would have collected that summer had the fees remained in place for city residents.
Fredericksburg’s youngsters and seniors would have been charged $3 and adults $5 each time they used the facility. Some had feared that would put the pool out of reach for low-income families.
“As a grandmother, I just can’t imagine children on one side of the street listening to the splashing and laughter on the other side and not taking part because they can’t afford it,” Buffett was quoted as saying in an article that ran that summer in The Free Lance–Star.
She continued to cover those user fees for the pool year after year.
A percentage of the proceeds from the new fund will be used each year to pay the daily entrance fees to the Doris E. Buffett Pool for city residents. Last year, the foundation donated $48,868, which covered 12,812 visits by city residents, according to the Parks, Recreation & Events Department.
To date, Buffett has contributed $578,159 for use of the pool. This has provided for 139,018 visits by city residents, or 79 percent of admissions to the pool, it said.
“We are very excited about the endowment,” said Jane Shelhorse, the department’s director.