Francine Cohen is the Citizen of the Year

By Laura Daniali | May 22, 2014
Photo by: Laura Daniali Kiwanis Citizen of the Year Francine “Frannie” Cohen would like to find the owner of the hand-stitched baby blanket that she found in downtown Edmonds while out collecting garbage.

Kiwanis Citizen of the Year Francine “Frannie” Cohen is on a mission to clean up the town.

Armed with a hat, gloves, scooper and plastic bags, Cohen collects garbage and other findings on her regular walks around downtown Edmonds.

“If it’s there, I pick it up,” Cohen said.

She doesn’t discriminate when it comes to what she will and won’t pick up, and picks up anything from cigarette butts to dog poop to lost clothing.

“What people leave is disgusting,” Cohen said, “and I’m sad to say they have no regard for the beauty of this world.”

Some items Cohen finds are not offensive to her; for instance, a hand-stitched baby blanket that she found around the intersection of Third Avenue and James Street.

She took the blanket home and laundered it, and is hoping to find the owner.

She also launders other clothing items she finds, and then donates them to charity.

Despite picking up other people’s waste, Cohen has a positive attitude towards the task, and life in general.

“I do what I do because it’s fun, and it’s very satisfying to me to give back to my community,” Cohen said.

She is ecstatic about receiving the award, and said it makes her “really silly and giddy and grateful.”

When Cohen was nominated, Mary Lou Kantor of the Edmonds Kiwanis Club said Kiwanians realized she had been active in many ways around Edmonds.

Volunteering at the Log Cabin and the Edmonds Mural Society, crocheting more than 500 afghans for charity, and being a Girl Scouts life member are just a few of her activities.

“It may not be a financial contribution in terms of the city, but in terms of care, she contributes daily to making this a nice place to be,” Kantor said.

Cohen has been service-oriented all her life, and said her parents and grandparents were always active in the community, too.

Her parents founded a bank in the Central District of Seattle in the 1960s to serve minorities.

“We all seemed to be reaching out to a community, and giving back,” Cohen said.

She encourages others to find a way to give back, regardless of age or the amount of time they have to give.

“Hold out your hand and let someone gently bring you into the fold of volunteering, and participating with other people,” Cohen said. “Discover the fun that’s involved.”

Cohen has lived in Edmonds with her husband Sidney for 16 years, and will receive her Citizen of the Year award on May 22 at the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce luncheon.


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