I have always felt I needed to be a
participant in life, not a spectator, and
a contributor through personal action,
large or small,” says Nancy Mott Frank
of Rochester, N.Y.
Frank has founded four nonprofit orga-
nizations whose core mission is to help
Her eyes were opened to the world af-
ter she spent a summer in Turkey during
high school through the American Field
Service. She says that experience, cou-
pled with a literacy tutoring program
she took part in during her sophomore
year at St. Lawrence, solidified her life-
time commitment to reaching out.
I was recruited and we were bussed
once a week to a location in St.
Lawrence County,” Frank says. “At
first I was a reluctant participant, but
as the months progressed I wanted to
go, and then I needed to go and help
those who needed to learn to read.”
Working with twin middle-aged sanita-
tion workers, she felt for the first time a
personal connection to a cause.
Driven by the need to be involved in
solutions to problems, Frank has guided
such organizations as RAIHN, which
helps provide emergency shelter for
homeless families, and Water for South
Sudan, a nonprofit based in Rochester
that works to bring safe drinking water
to the people of a remote area in that
African nation.
RAIHN has grown since its inception in
to more than 1,800 volunteers and
congregations hosting and volun-
teering. The goal is to help homeless
families stay together and achieve sus-
tainable independence by supporting
them with tailored services including
shelter in local congregations, food,
personalized professional case man-
agement and the hospitality of caring
The general population has the wrong
stereotype of homeless families,” Frank
says. “Actually, they’re very much like
us. Frequently, homelessness is the re-
sult of a medical crisis, a loss of job or a
divorce. It’s not easy convincing others
that this is a growing proportion of the
homeless population.
Nearly 90 percent of families are suc-
cessful after being in the program,”
Frank says. “Many find new jobs, go
back to school and find safe housing.
Many come back to say,
RAIHN helped me find
stability in my time of
Water for South Sudan has
successfully drilled 177 borehole wells
since being founded in 2003. In one
of Frank’s five trips to South Sudan in
the past decade, she led a trip to the
desert Wau area and witnessed a well-
digging. After the aquifer was reached
and water spout up the pipe, an el-
derly man said, “You mean to say I was
sitting on that water all the time?”
The wells bring more than water: After
one is dug, a market is built close by
and a school is opened, giving children
access to primary education. Health
dramatically improves, because the
well water is free from parasites.
While need is always the motivation for
the formation of a nonprofit organiza-
tion, Frank finds the “fun” in taking a
compelling idea into a fragile organiza-
tion form and on to a strong, indepen-
dent entity that will survive and grow.
She says, “It’s a kick to watch those
organizations become independent,
well-respected and able to effect
change in a person’s life.”
Catalyst for
Nancy Frank ’67
Rochester Area Interfaith
Hospitality Network (RAIHN),
Water for South Sudan,