GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — About 10 years ago, when Frani Grover began helping the homeless, she admits her perspective was very different.
“I kind of fell into it because it was really my son-in-law and my daughter who had the original interest,” said Grover, a 2023 Remarkable Woman finalist. “I just was kind of protective of my daughter. So I would go to with her when her husband couldn’t because I felt she might be in danger.”
It didn’t take her long to go from being a concerned volunteer to a comforting soul.
“I was building relationships with people and really getting to know them and love them and care about them,” she told KOIN 6 News. “The population is very misunderstood and judged unmercifully. I mean, the reasons people are homeless is individual for every person.”
About 3 years ago she created her nonprofit, East County Aid and Comfort. With the help of volunteers — which includes some of the people she served, they put together several kits with hot meals, groceries and supplies every Friday.
It’s a lot of work. But what keeps Frani Grover going is her deep faith.
“I am definitely inspired by my relationship with Jesus Christ. It has everything to do with what I believe he’s asking me to do,” she said. “One of the things that’s kind of evolved is that most of my volunteers are homeless, also.”
One of them, Bobby Joe, said Frani Grover was the only person to write while he was in jail. “When she did, she was telling me I was a hard egg to crack and that we were going to be best friends. Since then, she’s just an awesome lady.”
What she does is show them they matter.
“If it wasn’t for her there would be times where I’d be starving,” Bobby Joe said. “Hope and faith and she’s just been a good friend to me. All a friend can really ask for. She’s awesome.”
Professionally, Frani Grover has been a realtor for 25 years. Her charity work, though, is her passion.
Her organization is always looking for volunteers, including those who can help prepare and give out food.
Frani Grover said it took a long time to build the trust she now has with and from the homeless people she helps.
“You need to be cautious. I mean, it’s a desperate group of people. They’re desperate and in their desperation they can do terrible things. And I think all of us have that capacity. And if we were in their shoes, we might be doing desperate things too,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I feel like after years of that, now they believe that I’m not going to quit. That’s one reason I’m there in bad weather.”
KOIN 6 and Portland’s CW looks forward to recognizing the great contributions women have made in our nation and local communities. Remarkable Women is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life.
Four local women will be considered for Nexstar’s nationwide 2023 Woman of the Year Award. One local winner will be selected to earn a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Los Angeles.