To recognize the efforts of one of our area’s most dedicated senior volunteers, The Reporter News has nominated Edna “Frankie” Santoro to compete for this year’s national Salute to Senior Service(r) Contest.
Sponsored by Home Instead, Inc., the contest will honor a winner from each state and a national winner. Winners are selected by popular vote, which can be cast on the organization’s website once a day through March 1.
To vote for Frankie, go to SalutetoSeniorService.com and click the “Vote Now” button. In the “All States” field, change it to Texas. In the name field, type “Frankie” and then click the “Go” button. Find Frankie S. from Friendswood, TX and cast your vote.
Each state winner will have $500 donated to an approved nonprofit organization of their choice and the national winner will have $5,000 donated. Each winner will also be featured on the online Salute to Senior Service Wall of Fame.
“Frankie is such an important and integral part of Pearland and Friendswood,” The Reporter News Publisher Laura Emmons said. “She has changed so many lives and cares for everyone. I can’t think of a better way to honor her and show how much we appreciate all she has done-and continues to do.”
“And, even at 82 years old, Frankie still has more energy than anyone I know,” she added. “She is an example of what we should aspire to be and that age is only an illusion that shouldn’t stop anyone from making the world a better place in their unique way.”
For approximately 50 years, Frankie has been a volunteer for the Pioneers, an international volunteer network of current and retired telecommunication professionals. With that organization, she has participated in countless community service projects throughout Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina and Florida. She is currently serving as first vice president of the AT&T Pioneers Volunteer Gulf Coast Council and has served many years as president in the past.
“Frankie is very serious about her volunteering,” said Deberah Joseph, president of the Pioneers South Texas Chapter 64. “She has done all types of research in regards to our military and spearheaded numerous projects.”
“Frankie was invited to attend our Telecom Pioneer Assembly by our national board about 5 years ago,” she added. “Being Frankie means volunteering and supporting the military.”
For over 20 years, Frankie has also operated a nonprofit resale shop that’s purpose is to help those in need with items and donations. The shop serves as an outlet for teenagers who are in trouble to work off community service time, as well. She has changed many lives by working one-on-one with these youth.
For almost a decade, Frankie has been a regular volunteer for various First Presbyterian Church of Pearland community service programs and the Friendswood Senior Citizen Program.
“She contributes a lot to our facility,” Genie Balderaz, senior program manager for the Friendswood Senior Citizen Program, said. “She goes above and beyond and out of her way to be of assistance to what we need.”
In addition to serving on the advisory board of the Friendswood Senior Citizen Program and volunteering at numerous events, Frankie organized the first veterans’ luncheon and program four years ago at the facility. The event, which she continues to organize, grows every year and includes hundreds of veterans and guests, speakers from every branch of the military, patriotic entertainers and even local, state and national government officials.
Currently, she also serves as president of the VFW Pearland Memorial Post 7109 Auxiliary, secretary of Gathering of Eagles Houston, an organization dedicated to promoting veteran causes and awareness, and a board member for the nonprofit Presbyterian Service Center.
“We’re (Presbyterian Service Center) currently trying to obtain a grant to help create affordable housing for disabled veterans on our 5.9 acres of land because of the need,” Frankie said.
In 1999, when foreign seamen were stranded in the Port of Houston without money due to various issues, Frankie organized a group of volunteers to take needed food and supplies to them. She still communicates with some of the seamen today and donates items and time to gather donations to take to the Galveston Seafarers Center. And, when she’s not doing any of these things, she’s just being a friend to someone (many times a stranger) in need of a listening ear and wise counsel.
“Frankie is known throughout Pearland and Friendswood as an angel,” Emmons said. “There really is no other word that describes her as perfectly.”