Young makes a difference not just in his community
by Mark Ledbetter
OAK GROVE — After serving for over 35 years as an Episcopalian Priest, Frank Young didn’t intend to sit idle. He was determined to become involved in causes and organizations he felt worthwhile.

Oak Grove Mayor Charles Merkel said, “When Frank told me he was moving to Oak Grove I asked Frank if he knew what they called retirees? We call retirees volunteers.

“He laughed and said he didn’t intend to sit down but intended to find something worthwhile to do.

“He has been a blessing to Oak Grove. After settling into the community he has made a difference,” Merkel said.

Young retired as an Episcopal Priest after serving local parishes in Virginia, Michigan, and Alabama. He spent his last 11 years serving as rector for three area churches, St. Mary’s in Childersburg, Trinity Episcopal in Alpine, and the third at St. Andrews in Sylacauga before retiring in December 2009.

“I enjoyed the last 11 years the most,” Young said, “It was a great way to go out.”

Young and his wife Elizabeth, married for over 40 years, initially planned to retire to North Carolina. “We thought about it,” Young said. “We like where we lived; our doctors are here, we like the hospital and community, and we have friends; so we bought a house and stayed.”

Since retiring he said he has numerous requests to become involved in several organizations or causes. “I have been busy since retirement,” Young said.

Community involvement is part of both his and Elizabeth’s family and Christian tradition, Young said. He said his hero is his grandfather who was extremely active in community affairs, as was his wife’s family. “This is what drives us, and their activity was always couched in Christian terms,” Young said.

While serving as a chaplain at Coosa Valley Medical Center in Sylacauga while still serving his congregations, Young volunteered to served as a volunteer coordinator when CVMC Chaplain coordinator Glenn Winter was called to active duty with the Army Reserves. Winter serve 4 1/2 years.

“I was glad to do what I can for Glenn,” Young said. “Anyway I can support our soldiers.”

Winter said hospital personnel spoke very highly of Young and his efforts in his absence.

“He is a retired Army reserve chaplain and has been a mentor for me in many ways,” Winter said. “I’ve depended on him a lot.”

Young said he first trained as a hospital chaplain while serving in the reserves at a hospital in California. “I love it,” Young said.

Young said a major passion and concern for him has been providing care for caregivers. “It is incredibly stressful,” Young said.

Merkel said Young has been involved in many community needs and is well known in Oak Grove.

“He walks with his dog every morning and says ‘hi’ to everyone,” Merkel said. “Everyone knows him.”

Merkel said Young is extremely knowledgeable and experienced person. “His advice comes with a touch of caring for people and individuals,” Merkel said.

Aside from his involved in community garden, attending town council meetings, Young has been involved in two major projects on behalf of the Oak Grove community.

Merkel approached Young and asked him to assist in implementing a recycling program. Young said Merkel divided the 300 or so residences between himself, Young, and Sue Rogers and the trio went knocking on doors to introduce the program.

Young said recycling was very important to him.

“What we leave the next generation matters,” Young said. “Ours was a blessed generation and if we want the future generation to feel the same we must take care of our environment.”

Young justifies his concern for the environment by his personal faith. Citing a parable from Luke 17 where the servant that did only what was expected of him, Young said, “It is not about awards, but it is something we should be doing.”

Young became instrumental in establishing a Neighborhood Watch program for Oak Grove and several communities adjacent to the town.

“We wouldn’t have anything near the quality without Frank as its leader,” Merkel said, “and not only Oak Grove residents should be appreciative but communities adjacent to Oak Grove.”

Young attended the first Neighborhood Watch meeting and Merkel’s recommended that Young lead the group and eventually was elected to serve as coordinator by members of the Neighborhood Watch.

Merkel said Young attended two conventions at his own expense and brought back many useful materials and information.

“The program needs to progress beyond ‘keeping an eye on each other’s back,” Young said. “People need to know the community cares about each other, and is a great place to live.”

Young also said it is important for the Neighborhood Watch program to be integrated into the larger program of emergency response. “To have a watch captain who knows who lives where, someone in the know is critical.” Young said.

Young’s other activities include working special projects with Richard Bonds, Prevention Services Coordinator at Cheaha Mental Health, working with the Regional Planning District, and especially enjoys working with the B.B. Comer Memorial Library Board.

“I love this library,” Young said. Compared to other libraries Young said Comer is one of the best he has seen.

Young said future plans involve focusing on doing a good job on the ones he is already involved before taking on other volunteer opportunities.

“Requests come to me and I don’t have to go looking for them,” Young said.

Contact Mark Ledbetter at mledbetter@dailyhome.com

© 2012