August 27, 2014

What Death Can Teach Us

Frank P Ronken 55 years oldIn our fundraising publications we always change the name of our living residents, to protect their privacy. You may remember just reading about a man, whom we named Rick*.  Our resident and friend’s real name is Frank P. Ronken, and it is with great sadness we tell you he has recently passed away.

We now feel so privileged to be able to share his story with you, in memorial and as a perfect reminder of the life and death impact your partnership with us makes every day.

Frank didn’t talk much. He had some mental disabilities that make keeping a job impossible. He didn’t have family looking after him, but still managed to survive for nearly two decades relying on the generosity of others.

In fact, you may have seen him. Frank had been homeless for 17 years. He spent his days walking around the city, mainly going up and down Evergreen Way.

Even with his challenges, Frank built a little community. He would never ask for help, but still people reached out to him. Customers at a local Starbucks got to know him and would take turns buying him breakfast and coffee. Until he came to the Mission, that was often the only thing he ate all day.

One day, Jerry*, a good Samaritan, noticed that Frank had stop walking during the day and began to look very ill. His skin was dull. His eyes were sunken. His face had a yellowish tinge.

Jerry rushed Frank to the Emergency Room, where Frank was diagnosed as malnourished and anemic. His blood levels were so bad he almost had to have an emergency blood transfusion on the spot. The doctors did what they could and sent Jerry and Frank on their way. Jerry knew Frank needed more help then he’d been getting. With a few words and a weak nod of his head, he agreed to let Jerry bring him to the Mission.

After years of not eating, here at the mission Frank started getting three meals a day and was gaining strength and energy. But sadly, after nearly 20 years of being malnourished, his body couldn’t take it any longer. Even the healthy food he was getting wasn’t enough. At just 55, years of age, Frank passed away. Because of your faithful support and God’s great love, we have hope to believe Frank is now standing in the presence of his Lord and Savior, in complete and perfect health!

While we morn him, I can’t help but wonder, “If Frank had come to the Mission years ago, would he still be alive?”

I believe we can honor Frank by reaching out to those who are in need today. Keep your eyes open for people who maybe in desperate need of food, warm clothing, or safe shelter. Remember they may not be able to ask for help. Frank wasn’t. But we can still find ways to help them and get them the food and support they need before it’s too late.

Thank you for supporting the Mission so that people in need have a place to come get hot meals and find safe shelter. Most importantly, thank you for giving people like Frank the chance to meet Jesus.


If you would like to help others like Frank and honor him Frank P. Ronken, click here.

*Names changed to protect their privacy.