When Francesa “Frankie” Koethe graduated from St. Francis School last Saturday, she wore her community service cord with pride - and not just because she met the 400 volunteer hours required to receive this distinction.
Since her freshman year, Koethe has contributed 838 hours to March of Dimes, the national organization that strives to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
“This organization means a lot to me because many of my friends were premature, and my Uncle Johnny was premature, and MOD helped save their lives through research,” says the Mililani teen.
She first learned about MOD through her paddling coach, Al Streck, who also works for the organization. After a number of events, including a national youth conference in Georgia, Koethe says she began to feel more attached to the nonprofit’s mission to save babies.
“I really feel like I’m part of helping save a life,” she states.
She now co-chairs the youth Hawaii chapter with her sister Anna. In this role, she volunteers her time for many of MOD’s big events, including the Governor’s Ball, Governor’s Banquet, Bikers for Babies and the March for Babies. This past spring she recruited 50 volunteers who put in more than 1,700 hours of service for the annual walk, and she created an event at St. Francis to help educate her peers and raise funds.
“As a school we raised around $2,000. It was such an accomplishment!” Koethe exclaims.
In addition to her work with MOD, Koethe dances ballet, tap and jazz at Rosalie Woodsen’s Dance Academy, where she became a teacher’s aide recently. A National Honor Society member and class president, she also lends her talents in academics - Koethe earned a 3.82 GPA in all honors and AP classes her senior year - to underclassmen by tutoring.
So how does she find time to do it all?
“People always ask me this question,” Koethe says, “and I’m not really sure how I do it myself. In my head I just know that I’m doing what I can do to help others and be a better person in life.”
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