The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

May 19, 2014

Making a career out of volunteerism

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — Angela Franklin is a wife, a mother and a grandmother, but she could also be considered a cheerleader for volunteerism in the Greenville area.

Her enthusiasm has spilled over into such activities as PTA, DrugFree Greenville’s Walkathon, Altrusa Club projects, support for FISH, as well as ministries at her church.

Born and raised in Beatrice, Nebraska, she said she comes by this interest naturally, from her mother.

“My mother was a Sunday school teacher and also secretary for the PTA,” said Franklin. “I remember seeing her writing at night with her notes spread out all over the table. And when I was 21, she helped me with a Brownie troop for about six months — sort of a mother/daughter thing.”

In addition to her many projects, Franklin has also held a variety of business positions over the years.

“After I graduated from high school in Beatrice, I worked my way up through ALCO discount stores, starting as a part-time clerk in the candy department and working up to managing the fifth most volume-producing store in the chain.”

The last ALCO store she was associated with was in Andrews, Texas, and it was here that she met her future husband, Sheldon, who worked in the oil fields. They married, and their son, Derek, was born in Andrews.

“When the oil bust happened, he got laid off and went to work driving for a trucking company,” she said. “We moved to Lubbock, and I had an interview with Hastings Entertainment.” She was hired and was later transferred to their stores in Borger and Pampa.

The family eventually moved to Greenville in 1992 when Hastings opened a new store and Franklin became store manager.

“That’s when I got involved with Altrusa. I joined about 1995 and met all these wonderful people — it was like my sisterhood,” Franklin said.

Altrusa’s main focus is in building better communities through literacy and senior citizens’ programs.

“Angela was one of my sponsors who brought me into Altrusa, and for that I am forever grateful,” said the Herald-Banner’s Mary Standfield, a fellow member. “We do lots in the community, and it is a true sisterhood. Angela is an example of true altruism, which is where Altrusa gets its name.”

Eventually Franklin turned in her notice at Hastings, opting for less stressful, part-time jobs; she currently works several days a week at Greenville Floral & Gifts.

“PTA is my second career,” she said, laughing. Active at Carver Elementary School, she has held every office from president to Council PTA, but is perhaps proudest of being known as “the Carver grandma.”

“This started when my grandson, Jonathan, was in kindergarten, and I asked the teacher ‘Did anyone sign up for room mom?’ The room mother plans and helps with parties, helps with field days and trips, and reads to them.”

Jonathan’s classmates became accustomed to seeing her at the school and asked who she was. When she told them she was his grandma, some of them asked him if Franklin could be their grandma too.

“Yes, but she probably won’t give you gifts like she does me,” he told them.

Actually, she does sometimes bring snacks, but first and foremost, she gives of her time. She has been “the Carver grandma” through Jonathan’s first, second, third and now fourth grade classes.

Donna Rother, principal of Carver Elementary, had this to say: “Angela works hard to create wonderful experiences for the Carver kids — those above-and-beyond experiences that make school fun and memorable. More importantly, she’s a champion for our students and she finds opportunities to build them up. We couldn’t do it without volunteers like Angela Franklin!”

Participants in the recent DrugFree Greenville Walkopoly on May 3 undoubtedly saw Franklin who has served as co-walk boss for 12 years. The event raises funds to help support DrugFree Greenville’s substance abuse education and prevention plans for the coming year.

Prior to the day of the 4.5- mile walk, she oversaw arrangements and, along with others, lined up traffic control, secured help from the high school’s ROTC unit, and lined up groups for the food booths on Appetite Alley. She “coached” the Pals (junior and seniors from Greenville High School) who moved tables, emptied trash, ran the Bounce House and decorated the walk route with chalk messages of encouragement.

The money from this year’s event is still coming in, Franklin said, but so far they have raised $53,000.

FISH (Hunt County Shared Ministries) is another of her favorite groups. One year she decided combining books and food might work.

“I thought the people who come into FISH for food might be interested in taking home some free books too,” she said. “Altrusa had been collecting books, and Wally Jeffers (FISH director) let me use the bottom shelves on a wire rack to put out books. We put two boxes of books out one morning at 9 o’clock, and by 11:30 they were all gone.”

“Angela loves coming up to FISH,” Jeffers said. “She’s even brought her grandson up to volunteer. She’s a great asset.”

Franklin also wears another hat — as missions coordinator for her church, Westview United Methodist Church.

The church designates a specific mission for each month, she said. “For example, in May we collect donations of peanut butter and jelly (the most asked for items) for the FISH food pantry. In May we’re collecting supplies and food for vacation Bible school, and in August it’s pens to donate for school. At Christmas time we “adopt” people for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). The Easter project would be in the church or in outreach, and for two months we collect loose change for Coins for Christ.”

Franklin is also on the church’s finance committee and holds a trustee’s chair which involves overseeing projects.

Asked where she gets the energy for her many activities, Franklin grins and answers simply, “It’s my passion.

“At one point I actually took a year and a half off from volunteering, and I was miserable. I’m a people person, and these are my people.

“Someone once told me ‘If you got paid for everything you did, you’d be rich,’ but I think if you have the time you should give back.”

Clearly, Franklin has found another kind of riches for her life.