For the families and individuals in the Winchester area who have fallen on hard times and face a struggle to even provide themselves with basic needs, Fran Ricketts is an angel of mercy providing hope during dark times. Fran, the winner of the 2016 Governor’s Volunteerism Award for Outstanding Senior Volunteer has dedicated her life to helping others for more than 30 years. Her life’s work has been serving through the Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP), a council of 200 churches and synagogues dedicated to addressing the needs of the poor and disadvantaged in Winchester. Fran manages the entire program – from fundraising to recruiting volunteers to personally responding around the clock to the needs of the community.
Each year, Fran and the CCAP assist more than 34,000 families in the community. The vast majority of these families are in need of food support and Fran works hard to provide fresh foods and canned goods to keep her community fed. A great many of these families are homeless or at risk of being evicted. Fran annually assists nearly 300 of these families in the Winchester and Frederick County area finding them shelter and a place to store their personal items. When no shelter can be found, Fran even makes sure families have someplace to sleep providing tents, sleeping bags, and cooking supplies. She even goes above and beyond to help individuals plan for the future assisting them with paying for GED testing and helping find job interview clothing. In addition to her tireless work, she never misses an opportunity to educate and work to change the perceptions of poverty and homelessness. She sees the face of Christ in every person she deals with and understands how important compassion is to solving community problems.