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Mary Therese Friel Celebrating 40 Years with Miss USA Title

May 16, 2019


On April 30th, forty years ago, Rochestarians were glued to their television sets watching as hometown girl Mary Therese Friel competed for the national title of Miss USA. Friel won the Miss USA title and went on to place sixth in the Miss Universe Pageant three months later. She parlayed these experiences into an international modeling career, a business that she operates in Rochester New York and a life’s work of community involvement and philanthropy.

“I want my legacy to be that I have made a difference,” said Mary Therese Friel. “Back in 1979, when I was Miss USA, I had the tremendous opportunity of meeting the great Muhammad Ali. Talking with him completely changed the course of my life.” Ali left Friel with this quote, “Service to others is the rent we pay for our room in the hereafter.”

The idea that Friel had the responsibility to use her celebrity to do good things, to help people and to be a role model became a focal point in her life. When she opened her company in Rochester, this philosophy became a cornerstone of the business.

“What she has done for so many young people goes so far above and beyond what might be her basic job description,” said Thomas P. Proietti, Resident Media Scholar at St. John Fisher College. “She is an inspirational motivating force for so many young people – one who gives endlessly of herself. I am proud to call her one of my former students and advisees and proud to have her presence in the Rochester media community. She was originally a force for herself when she was a teenager and one of my students at St. John Fisher College. Upon her return to the area and the establishment of her company, she has been a passionate advocate for girls, young ladies and women.”

Animal welfare is a cause that is close to Friel’s heart and she volunteers in a number of ways with Lollypop Farm, The Humane Society of Greater Rochester. She can be seen with the “Pet of the Week” every Thursday at noon on WROC-TV 8. She can also be found taking time to visit residents at senior living facilities each week with several of her certified Pet Assisted Therapy Animals.

“Mary Therese’s daily work involves empowering and influencing young women to learn, grow, advance and succeed. She doesn’t stop there – she leads by example and shows young women the importance of philanthropy and of giving back to those in need,” said Alice Calabrese, President & CEO of Lollypop Farm.

“Every year for as long as I can remember (which is about 10-15 years) Mary Therese has personally volunteered to help Lollypop Farm with our major events. Along with her help, she brings a dozen or so of her models to volunteer. Mary Therese’s positive, can-do attitude really shines through during these events and the models not only have the perfect role model but also get to experience first hand the joy of giving back to others.”

Within her industry Friel has done extensive volunteer work for many organizations for many decades, including Causewave Community Partners. “Mary Therese is a long-time, generous, never-say-no supporter of our work,” said Todd Butler, President & CEO of Causewave Community Partners. “She was recognized with our Chairman’s Award in 2015. Mary Therese’s most common refrain is ‘whatever you need, just ask. We’ll do anything for you.’ And she means it. It is not uncommon to get replies to our emails, on volunteer projects, within minutes of sending them, including evenings and weekends. Mary Therese is passionate about the community as a whole, boosting Rochester whenever she gets the chance. We have never felt like a pro bono’ project – MTF always treats us like a million dollar client. She is the ultimate professional – delivering it 100 percent of the time and expecting it from those around her, no matter what the budget or project.”

Friel has made a life’s work out of using her influence and resources to support causes that contribute to the greater good, especially here in Rochester. “As the President of The Mary Therese Friel Modeling Agency, I am committed to making a difference, by instilling the philosophy of volunteerism into the people who are part of my company and my life,” said Friel. “Both personally and professionally, I spear-head the movement to those around me to give time, talent and treasure. As a role model, I encourage volunteering, fund-raising and support for non-profit causes and community programs and initiatives.”

A look at the reviews that have been written by Friel’s clients, especially on the
Better Business Bureau’s web site (where she has an A+ rating), further speak to this
legacy (link included below). “Mary Therese and Kent are true professionals, great role models, dedicated to the community and down to earth real people,” wrote Elaine C.

Photo: Mary Therese Friel with Muhammad Ali in 1979

Links to interviews:

Interview by Adam Chodak, WROC-TV

Cover Story Feature in 55 Plus Magazine

Cover Story Feature in Rochester Woman Magazine

ROC Image Radio:

For more information about Mary Therese Friel, please reach out to Kent Friel

Other Features:

Rochester Woman Mag Article
20th Anniversary Article

Links To Customer Reviews:

Better Business Bureau

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