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New United Way president wants us to ‘pay it forward’

Cara Frank became the 2014-15 president of the United Way of Becker County on July 1. She will launch the nonprofit organization’s annual fundraising drive next month. SUBMITTED PHOTO

From serving as the admiral of the 73rd Northwest Water Carnival to sitting on the preschool and daycare committee for her home church in Frazee, volunteering has been an integral part of Cara Frank’s life since she moved to the lakes area 13 years ago.

“I love to be involved,” said Frank, who was recently named as 2014-15 president of the United Way of Becker County.

In fact, volunteerism was something that was practically bred into her from the day she was born.

“I grew up around my parents’ volunteering,” added the Alborn, Minn. (northwest of Duluth), native.

“In a small town, you have to rely on people to volunteer for events… otherwise they wouldn’t happen.”

So when she married Detroit Lakes native Mike Frank and moved to northwest Minnesota 14 years ago (the couple spent a year in the Hawley area before moving to Frazee), Frank quickly became acquainted with a variety of local volunteering opportunities.

Fortunately, her career as a banking professional — one year at Bremer, 9½ years at First Security, and now 2½ years at Bell State Bank & Trust, where she currently serves as vice president and manager of the Detroit Lakes branch — allowed her sufficient time to indulge her passion for involvement outside of work hours.

“I joined the Jaycees in 2004,” she said, noting that this was the same year she experienced her first Northwest Water Carnival.

Four years later, she took the reins as the 2008 Water Carnival admiral. In 2011, Frank stepped back from the Jaycees and focused her attention on another local nonprofit organization: The United Way.

“I’m about a year into my second term on the board of directors,” she said. “I’ve also chaired the business drive — twice — and chaired the Community Celebration (a fundraiser held every September in Detroit Lakes).

“I also sit on the budget and allocation committee, and the Celebration of Heroes (an annual event honoring the community’s ‘everyday heroes’ and United Way volunteers) committee.”

On July 1, she became the organization’s latest president.

“I would like to thank the Board of Directors of the United Way of Becker County for selecting me as this year’s president,” Frank said. “It is truly an honor to be part of such a wonderful organization.”

For the next few months, Frank’s primary responsibility will be overseeing the United Way’s fundraising drive, which supports 34 nonprofit organizations and agencies throughout Becker County.

She has chosen the theme of “Inspire Kindness: Pay It Forward” for the 2014 fundraising drive.

“I chose this theme because I am blessed to work for a wonderful company that ‘pays it forward’ each and every day, and it truly is the mission of the United Way of Becker County and its Board of Directors,” Frank said.

“Whether you donate your time or money, you are impacting the lives of others… Even though you might not think you’re paying it forward just by making a small donation, you are.”

Donations to the United Way are used to support a variety of partner agencies and community nonprofit organizations “which help individuals and families in times of need,” Frank explained.

 The goal for this year’s fundraising campaign is $225,000, she added. The payroll drive kicks off in August (the exact date has not yet been determined), while the Community Celebration (which took the place of the residential ‘door-to-door’ drive several years ago) is on Sept. 25, and the business drive is set to kick off on Oct. 7.

In addition to the partner agencies and organizations it supports, the United Way is also directly involved in the Food 4 Thought Backpack Program, which provides much-needed food to thousands of hungry children at schools throughout Becker County.

They are also involved with the Day of Caring, a one-day program in which thousands of high school students and community volunteers go out into their home communities and help area senior citizens and disabled adults with yard chores, window washing and other small projects that they wouldn’t be able to do on their own.

“I promise you that I will serve this wonderful community by meeting the needs of its members to the best of my ability during this year as President,” said Frank.

“I look forward to a great year.”

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454