Frank Erck - Raising money for charity is his forte

April 19, 2006|by TARA REILLY

At age 71, Frank Erck jokes he's at a bridge in life - the bridge between full-time employment and retirement.

As a compromise, he works three days a week as a mortgage officer for Mercantile Mortgage LLC.

Erck, of Hagerstown, said he spends about an equal number of hours a week volunteering. He has helped raise money for charity and helped promote the business community in Washington County.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Erck moved to the county in 1973 to become executive director of the YMCA in downtown Hagerstown, where he worked until 1988.

While there, he was a force behind the True Grit program, which honors athletes in the county's public and private schools and at Hagerstown Community College. The program awards $500 scholarships not to star athletes, but to those who might have struggled to attain accomplishments.


"We wanted someone who may have overcome some adversity," Erck said.

The 25th True Grit awards ceremony will be held in May.

He has been involved in an annual raffle for the YMCA, which has raised more than $500,000. The raffle is in its 20th year.

As co-founder of the Hagerstown Rotary Foundation, he has helped give $1 million to $2 million to nonprofit groups for capital projects.

This June, he will wrap up eight years on the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission's board of directors. For the last two years, he has chaired the EDC's Celebration of Business committee, which recognizes existing county businesses.

While his list of community service endeavors is lengthy, Erck said his reason for doing it is not complicated - he likes to help people.

His favorite service, he said, is his 14 years on the board of directors for San Mar Children's Home.

The home serves teenage girls who were runaways, alcoholics and truants, either abandoned by their parents or abused by them. The home offers therapy, tutoring and a family-style atmosphere while they learn skills to enable them to succeed in society.

"If nobody else is setting restrictions or limits on that child about right or wrong, it's very difficult for a youngster to learn that on their own," Erck said.

He has helped raise $800,000 to build the Jack E. Barr Therapeutic Group Home at San Mar.

Erck and Jone Bowman are co-chairs of a campaign that began last year to raise $1.2 million for a shelter for girls.

The shelter, which is set to open soon, will have 10 beds.

So far, Erck said, $917,000 has been raised, and he believes the campaign will reach its goal.

He said San Mar is helping girls who need the support and that he has seen many go on to find jobs and have careers.

"You're helping young girls who may, through no fault of their own, have had a lot of problems, and perhaps, some low self-esteem, and our home is a safe place for them," Erck said.


Name - Frank Erck

Address - Hagerstown

Age - 71

Occupation - Mortgage officer, Mercantile Mortgage LLC

Most notable achievement - Five children and six grandchildren

Your proudest moment - Being elected to the Hagerstown Community College Athletic Boosters Club's Sports Hall of Fame was his most ironic, he said, "because I'm the worst athlete in the world." He said he was elected to the hall because he raised a lot of money in scholarships for HCC athletics.

Who is the person you most admire and why? - A former boss in Ohio, former boss Dick Phoebus and current supervisor Julie Donat. He said they "kept me around past my prime."

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - The most important thing to me is that you never judge a person by your first impression of them. Don't make judgments about people until you find out who they are as an individual. You will miss so much about others if you make snap judgments.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - He said he would like to finish the San Mar campaign for $1.2 million. The campaign is to pay for an emergency shelter at San Mar Children's Home. So far, $917,000 has been raised.

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