Lisa Franko, Director of Development for Housing Opportunities, Inc., has always been an advocate for local nonprofits in her community, donating her time and energy to put on events, fundraise, and more. It’s where she knew her career would go, taking the experience she had in the for-profit industry and helping to grow said organizations.
Franko didn’t take a traditional career path, however. She became a mom at a young age and eventually went on to get her associates degree (she is currently working towards her CFRN certification from the Indiana School of Philanthropy).
“Instead of getting a bachelor’s degree, I was using my work experience that I gained out in the field as my degree,” she said. “It really taught me a lot about my community.”
Franko learned just how incredible and generous her community was in her career in the for-profit industry, inspiring her to match the spirit of giving she saw every day.
“People really truly do want to help each other and lift each other,” Franko said. “If I can be a piece of the puzzle and be a part of the story to connect people to organizations that are doing good in the community, if I can be that bridge, that is the most fulfilling thing for me.”
“I always knew this is where my career would take me,” Franko said.
Housing Opportunities, Inc. (HO) is a local nonprofit in Valparaiso that works to resolve and prevent homelessness in the community. Before coming to HO a little over two years ago, Franko worked in marketing. But when the position of Director of Development opened, she jumped on the chance to work with an organization she believed in.
“With my experience in marketing in the for-profit sector, I knew this was a career I would excel at,” she said. “And the past two years and have been a true honor and pleasure, getting the chance to tell the stories of people who are working towards stable housing and self-sufficiency.”
The clients she interacts with make her job rewarding every day, especially in a community she holds dear.
“The clients we help are incredible,” she said. “I love reaching out to the community to talk about the work they are doing and how are services are unique to be able to provide the education and the empowerment and the resources to find stable housing in our community.”
Franko and her husband, Bob’s, blended family keep the pair busy every day. With their five kids—Michael, 26, Jake, 23, Cydney, 19, Gwen, 17, Jackson, 9—their 5-year-old dog Ellie, and their cat that acts like a dog, the family of nine are navigating this new world together in a community they love.
“We just love that this is where we have made our home,” she said.
Franko’s job connects her to people throughout the community, some whose connection is the perfect example of what living in a small, tight-knit community is like.
“I actually had a booth set up for Housing Opportunities, Inc. at the downtown farmer’s market one day, and that day we met a man who had lived in our house for years,” she said.
“He told us all these stories and the history of the house,” she continued. “But one quirky thing he told us was about the domed ceiling and the tubular skylight, and how back in the 1920’s and 1930’s, there was a local baker in the community that lived there, and he purposefully built the kitchen with this domed ceiling and skylight where the chimney would be for the oven. He even sent us photos of the house being built in the 20s.”
“It was really cool to have that history of our home and our community,” Franko said.
For more information about Housing Opportunities, Inc and how you can volunteer, please visit their website at https://hoi.help/