“You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”

This quote from St. Therese of Lisieux characterizes the mission of the Riley Family Foundation that Barb and Brian Riley established in 2020. Their love for their Catholic faith, their family, and those in need throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is the catalyst for their commitment to creating a legacy of support for Catholic Social Services (CSS) programs. Starting in 2020, the Riley Family Foundation forged a partnership with CSS to provide financial resources to help fund the charitable works of CSS in the Philadelphia area.

At the heart of the Foundation’s mission is practicing the corporal works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

“We don’t want to build buildings,” Barb said. “We really want to do God’s work and positively impact the lives of the less fortunate.”

Over the past three years, the Riley Family Foundation’s primary focus has been supporting several programs within CSS that provide critical and life-sustaining services to men, women, and children. This support has helped impact over 200,000 of our neighbors in need.

Through their work, the Foundation supports Mercy Hospice, a CSS residential program offering stability and hope to women in recovery from substance abuse — in particular mothers with young children, by covering the annual cost of the program’s food bill.

The Foundation also supports St. John’s Hospice in Center City which provides crucial and life-sustaining services with dignity, respect, and compassion to men experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia.

“We replaced all the beds at St. John’s Hospice and all the lockers,” Barb said. “In our small way, we’re trying to help the good people of CSS improve the lives of the homeless”.

At The Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence’s Day Program in Delaware County, which serves men and women with intellectual and physical disabilities, the Foundation provided support for the purchase of a wheel chair ramp, scholarships for individuals to attend, as well as pet and music therapy for program participants.

For the Rileys, who are parishioners of St. Patrick in Malvern, the Foundation is a family affair. Their five children, Madison; Paige and Jack, twins who are sophomores at the University of Richmond and College of the Holy Cross; Hope, a senior at the Academy of Notre Dame; and Finn, a freshman at Malvern Preparatory School, participate in decisions regarding the funding levels for specific CSS programs.

The Riley family (from left), Jack, Hope, Paige, Barb, Brian and Finn, joined Archbishop Nelson Pérez, center, at the annual Archbishop’s Christmas Party this past December. Not pictured: Madison Riley.

Barb noted the programs they support are varied and with the input of their sons this year, the Foundation is providing funding to homeless shelters for pregnant women through Guiding Star Ministries and Cenacle at the Padre Pio Center in Philadelphia.

“With a focus on the pro-life cause and supporting women in need of shelter, these programs spoke to my sons,” Barb said.

“Our children provide input on what charities are important to them, and then we consider our contribution levels. We are trying to be dependable, long-term partners to these charities so that they can confidently plan for the future.”

Brian Riley, who graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, is a successful business owner and financial expert. He is the managing partner of JB Investments Management, LLC, a hedge fund investor specializing in distressed situations.

While people have asked Brian when he’s going to retire, Barb said their focus is on helping as many people as possible through the Foundation. “He keeps doing what he’s doing because the more resources we generate, the more people we can help, which is the goal,” Barb said.

Their philanthropy work is firmly rooted in their Catholic faith. Barb said “At the end of our lives, God is going to ask, ‘What did you do with the gifts I gave you?’ I think for us it should be a clear answer. We did what we could to serve Christ, to feed the poor, and care for the sick. To be successful, we need good partners and we have found them in the faith-filled people of CSS.”

Creating a legacy of giving exclusively to Catholic organizations through the Foundation is essential to the Rileys.

“Everything we do is 100% Catholic or Catholic-affiliated.  Brian and I want to create a legacy for future generations of Rileys and leave no doubt that we intended to give to charities and organizations whose missions are consistent with Christ’s teachings and our Catholic Faith,” Barb said.

The goal is to have one of their children take over leadership of the Foundation in the future. Barb said right now it is important for “the kids to do their site visits and stay as involved as possible while they’re at school or in college.”

“We are extremely grateful for the Riley Family Foundation’s continued generosity,” expressed Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre, who oversees the Secretariat for Catholic Human Services as part of his administrative and pastoral responsibilities. “Their contributions are especially important now that the financial assistance people received during the pandemic is ending.

“Given the end of that funding and also the rate of inflation right now, the cost of food has just gone up across the board. The Rileys allotted monies this year to help with food assistance, so that’s really going to impact individuals, the elderly, families, and perhaps single parents who are raising kids on their own,” Bishop McIntyre added.

Bishop McIntyre also noted that the Rileys have been proactive in seeing firsthand the work being done by the programs they are supporting.

“They’ve taken a really hands-on approach by involving their children in the Foundation and also going to different CSS sites, to visit our staff and those who we serve. It is tremendous that they are involved on that level,” he said.

Barb Riley, Katie Wolfington, and Madison and Paige Riley visited the Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence Day Program in Delaware County last spring.

“Our mission, history, and ability to meet changing needs are built on our Catholic faith and our relationships with key stakeholders,” added James Amato, Secretary, Catholic Human Services. “Our partnership with the Riley family exemplifies this through their faith-filled generosity and presence in our programs and with those we are privileged to serve.”

Along with the Foundation’s generosity, Barb and Brian have committed to serve as ambassadors for CSS.

Barb emphasized that awareness in the broader community of the work that CSS is doing is key to inspiring individuals, groups, and organizations to give of their time and treasure.

“There are so many amazing and wonderful charitable works performed by the good people working in CSS and we feel the need to improve awareness within our faith community here in Philadelphia,” she said. “I think if more people within the Archdiocese were made aware of the opportunities to get involved, not just financially, but with time and talent, they would jump at it.”

Barb Riley and her friends volunteered at St. John’s Hospice in Philadelphia this past December. The Rileys are grateful to God for the opportunity they have been given to help others in need.

“God willing, we can continue to support the people of CSS and their good works, bringing Christ’s love and mercy to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Hopefully, in time, the partnership between CSS and the Riley Family Foundation will grow and benefit even more deserving people,” Barb said.

“To whom much is given, much is expected, so I’m praying that God continues to bless us so we can continue to help others for years to come.”