Tag Archives: Volunteer

Profiles LPC/HCOG: Frankie France

Frankie France was one of the “HCOG Volunteer Hall of Fame” members, at least in my book.  Sister France was a member of Homestead Church of God (now Life Pointe) before my dad moved to Homestead to become the pastor in the summer of 1986.  She was about 5 feet tall, and she had gray hair, and she was… hmm, how do you say… spunky!  Our first week in Homestead here at the church, Frankie told my dad that she was going to run him off.  She declared that she was the meanest!  Just five minutes or so hanging out with her and you knew that was not true!

She had a fiercely independent “can-do” style about her that is pretty much non-existent these days.  That was probably because she grew up Kentucky in without electricity, without running water in her house, and she had to ride for miles on a horse every day just to get to school.    My dad called her “The Kentucky Wonder”.  Before retiring, she managed a restaurant, so she knew lots of tricks about consolidating several small amounts of condiments into one bottle, and how to make candy, and how to fix large quantities of food for church dinners.  She always had an angle at how to do stuff.  As she was getting up in years, she was determined to be at church and to get around on her own in her car as long as she physically could.

As far as her volunteer work, as a classroom monitor she spent every school day at Pathway Christian School, which was a ministry of our church, helping the little ones learn to read and keeping the rowdy teenage boys (who were of course unlike me) in line.  Every day she would collect coupons from boxes, newspapers, mail-outs, and store papers to cut them out and and redeem them for a fraction of a penny each to the company of origin to donate some money to the Florida Boy’s Ranch.  She was always first in line to donate some canned goods for food drives even though she was on a very meager fixed income.  Anytime the church had an activity that required workers, she was there to clean up, or cook, or do her part and more to help with the work day.

One of the most endearing characteristics she had was her spunky attitude and sense of humor.  I remember one time I was leaning back in my chair at school talking to one of my neighbors when Sister France came up behind me and popped me on the head with a booklet.  She laughed and told me to get back to work.  But Sister France always had my back.  For years after we joked about her popping me in the head with the booklet, even when she was in a retirement home.  She never did really give me a hard time, although she would joke a lot about giving me a tough time.  Travis and I adopted her as our Homestead granny and she adopted us back.  I guarantee you this; if anyone messed with my dad, they would have to go through Frankie France before they got to him.  She was loyal as loyal could be.  And she always had a good joke or a story.

Due to a condition that caused her vision to deteriorate, Sister France eventually had to give up driving at night, then altogether.  Soon, she was no longer able to read her bible.  After a few years, she was totally blind and unable to take care of herself.  I regret to this day that I didn’t visit her more than I did, because every single time I went to see her in her little room at her retirement home, she would get me to laugh and joke, and we would have such a good time.  And I loved to go see her.

For years, she was an integral part of the church, tithing faithfully though she was on a very limited fixed income, and providing ladies’ meetings with some of the best jokes and nuggets of wisdom.  She exemplified the attitude that we should all have, loyal to God, her church, her pastor, and her friends, and loving God and man with reckless abandon.  About four years ago, Frankie France went on to meet Jesus.  I want everyone to remember this awesome woman who meant so much to my church, my family, and me.  I challenge each of you who read this and myself to carry on the legacy of Frankie France with faithful giving, volunteering, loyalty, dedication, and cheerfulness.  One day, I will see her in Heaven.

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Filed under church, Homestead, life pointe, school

Profiles Life Pointe/HCOG: Ela Ortega 4/15/08

This is a very special edition of Profiles. I want to tell everyone about one of the most amazing volunteers in the history of Life Pointe Church/Homestead Church of God. I want to steal the words of Pastor Travis when he said,”When I hear people give excuses why they cannot serve, I think of Ela Ortega.” Shame on me and others for excuse-making when it was unacceptable.

Easter 2005 was Ela and Ivan’s first time with us at Life Pointe. They were driving by the church one day, and felt drawn to come. In the first service, there was a call to donate canned goods (the event was “Canning Hunger”) and as visitors they made one of the largest contributions. In that same year, they joined in making handmade gifts for Mother’s Day. She also donated her dishes and several appliances after an appeal was made to help someone in the church. From there, the volunteering just multiplied.

Ela Ortega is without question one of the most important pieces of Life Pointe’s volunteer group. She serves as the right hand volunteer coordinator to my mom, Anne Johnson. Anytime a new person walks through the doors at the theater and writes his or her information on a connection card, they are sure to get a personal contact from Ela. Ela also helps coordinate the volunteers in hospitality by reminder phone calls during the week. Ela also has a nack for encouraging people. She definitely has a heart of gold. The most amazing part is that does all this in spite of a debilitating condition which has left her lungs at a fraction of the capacity of most people. This beautiful and kind woman of God has also dealt with the loss of her husband, Ivan, who was also a member and volunteer at Life Pointe. Through all these struggles, Ela remains an example of perseverance, dedication, faith, and kindness. Ela doesn’t get to come to church very often anymore, but every week she listens to the message via podcast and encourages the LPC bloggers with her thoughtful comments.

It’s really amazing that one of the areas in which Ela is so gifted, her words of encouragement and talking to people, is the area in which her physical body has been attacked. If there was a Life Pointe Hall of Fame, Ela would get my vote on the first ballot!

Please take the time to watch this video in Ela’s own words. This was recorded for a series called “LikeUs.tv“.

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Filed under church, life pointe, worship