Frannie Cohen is a hard woman to pin down.
Between volunteering for the Log Cabin, the Mural Society and City of Hope; teaching aerobics at Northwest Hospital; policing the town for litter; traveling with husband Sidney and keeping up with her own exercise program at Harbor Square Athletic Club, she’s a one-woman dynamo. Oh yes, and in her spare time she quilts afghans and donates them to charity.
In honor of her community service, the Edmonds Kiwanis Club has named Cohen the 2014 Edmonds Citizen of the Year.
“I started making afghans about eight years ago,” Cohen said. “A friend’s mom had died and left behind three 32-gallon bags of yarn. I emptied the bags in the middle of my living room and sorted everything into piles by color. Then I stared at this mountain of yarn, and the inspiration hit me: turn them into afghans for charity!”
She’s been at it ever since, turning out more than 500 afghans for various hospitals, charitable auctions, and children’s homes.
Cohen grew up in Seattle, and attended McGilvra Elementary, Eckstein Middle and Roosevelt High School. During her childhood, she helped her parents run the family grocery store at 23rd and Union.
“The store kept us pretty busy, but we did take family outings whenever we could,” she said. One of these brought her to Edmonds.
“I was only a little girl, but I remember falling instantly in love with Edmonds and telling my parents ‘I want to live here when I grow up.'”
Then 14 years ago she and husband Sidney were looking for a place to live, when they walked into a condo in downtown Edmonds. “I was instantly smitten,” she said. “And my childhood impression was so right. This is the place I was meant to be.”
Cohen’s love for Edmonds goes beyond words. She quite literally walks the talk, patrolling the downtown area wearing latex gloves, wielding a trowel and trash bag and pickup up every piece of litter she sees.
“I’m proud of this town. It’s a destination kind of place, and I want it to look good,” she says. “I pick up everything from pieces of clothing to hypodermic needles. Sometimes I even find money!” Any money she finds goes into a special jar to purchase clothing for donation to charity.
A self-described advocate for children, Cohen believes in the healing power of doing good. “Healing is close to my heart,” she says.
“I believe that by helping others and doing good things, we spread good in the world. I am so blessed to live in this wonderful place, have my health, and have the ability and opportunity to contribute to my community with gratitude and appreciation.”
Cohen will officially receive her award at the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce luncheon May 22.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel