On Sunday, August 16, 2020, a very dear friend of mine, and the Saint John’s family, Frankie Cook, was called home to heaven. I think for most of us who knew and loved her, it still does not feel entirely real.
I met Frankie in 2008 when I came to work for St. John’s Shelter, now known as Saint John’s Program for Real Change. I was recruited to start a workforce program for homeless mothers, as well as to create a high school/GED education program.
By the grace of God, I met Frankie Cook and Olliver Jones, both of whom were homeless mothers and new to Saint John’s. We instantly bonded and I referred to them as my “WOW Sisters – Women of Wisdom.” I knew that they were wise beyond their years and that I was ultimately going to learn from them, and I did!
As a client of Saint John’s, Frankie became a role model to others. She followed the rules, she went above and beyond in everything she did and she took pride in herself and her surroundings. She quit smoking and began a walking routine and encouraged others to do the same.
Frankie was a natural at mentoring young mothers. She offered them advice whether they asked or not and she provided them support and encouragement.
That is not to say she was “easy” on them; she had high expectations and didn’t feel the need to sugar coat anything. All this and she was a client. She was raising her son Omari, and knew firsthand what it was like to be a single mother.
As our Workforce Training program evolved into what is now Plates Café and Catering and First Steps, it became obvious that we had clients who had graduated our program and were successfully living on their own that perhaps could be employed at Saint John’s. Fortunately for Saint John’s, Frankie was interested and became one of the first former clients to become an employee of Saint John’s in the Customer Service division.
Frankie will be missed by all of us yet she will NEVER be forgotten and her legacy will live on in each mother, child, co-worker, family and friend she encountered. Her smile will always shine brightly in my heart and I will wave to each butterfly I see knowing that one of them just might be Frankie.
I will miss her dearly but am eternally grateful to have had her as my friend and sister. I hope to reunite with her in heaven some day and we will laugh and remember the times we shared together.
God Bless you Frankie Cook!
By Maureen Gagliardi, Director of Career Education and Placement (2008-2016), Saint John’s Community Supporter