|April 22, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 8 • Oakland, CA|
Sandwich-making to board leader: a Vincentian journey
Ed Frakes was installed as the new president of the board for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County in March. As he is quick to state, he and Pope Francis are contemporaries and if the new pope can become the shepherd for billions of Catholics worldwide, Frakes can take on the leadership of the Society in Alameda County.
As a young boy in Kansas, Frakes remembers an uncle visiting from Washington and telling him that he volunteered at a St. Vincent de Paul. His uncle said that they collected furniture, clothing and food and helped people in need. That example of selflessness and service remained with Frakes throughout his life. A longtime resident of the Niles area of Fremont, he retired as an art and elementary school teacher after 22 years. He first joined the Corpus Christi Conference in Fremont in 1993. He was asked to attend meetings because there was no member younger than 70 years old at the time, Frakes said.
He began helping with a bag lunch program that prepared lunches for the priest to hand out at the parish house. That service expanded to providing clothing, resource and referral services. Soon one of the members built a food locker, preparing and serving up to 35 lunches, five days a week. The Society responds to the immediate needs of the individual, "walking the walk and talking the talk" of serving neighbors in need.
Frakes served as president at Corpus Christi for six years and was on the council board for six years, working on the property and housing committee. He is the conference spiritual adviser while he is serving as president.
Frakes said he felt a "restlessness of the Spirit" as he was discerning the opportunity of leading the society, which includes 813 members in Alameda County, After prayer and discernment, he decided to announce his candidacy as president last December to succeed outgoing president Gary Flinders. Assuming the leadership of the society can be daunting, and Ed is building the conferences, committees and Board of Trustees to collaborate with other faith-based organizations and social service agencies to assist those who need a helping hand.
Sister Elaine Sanchez of Sisters of the Holy Family in Fremont had served with Frakes at one time on the SVdP board's housing committee. She remembers him as "a good guy. He is in touch with the Vincentian mission of spirituality and friendship that drives our service of Christ in his many disguises."
Key dates in St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County
• April 4, 1833, International Society of St. Vincent de Paul is founded in Paris
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