Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15
I first met Frank Trew at a meeting for The Donelson Gateway Project at the McDonald’s on McGavock Pike when we needed help with our website. As I learned quickly after becoming good friends with Frank shortly thereafter, his skillset is widespread and he uses each one together to successfully serve his community in extraordinary ways.
Frank’s parents met as students at Lipscomb University. Their first home was in the Maplecrest neighborhood and then picked the land in what became Lincoya Hills to build and design their home where several of their friends from Lipscomb had married and were moving to. Frank recalls that many of them are still his friends and neighbors to this day. Frank grew up in the home where he lives today with his husband Michael. Frank went to nursery school at Lincoya Hills Baptist Church and kindergarten at Donelson Church of Christ. His kindergarten teachers still attend Donelson Church of Christ and Frank sees them often. He went on to Stanford Elementary School (now Stanford Montessori) and then Goodpasture Christian School thereafter. Frank went on to graduate from the University of Tennessee Nashville Health Sciences and became a Paramedic, where he worked for Cheatham County for years.
In 1984, Frank and friend Ed Suey started Medi-Call Ambulance Service on Donelson Pike, where he served as Executive Director. In that role, Frank expanded the company and his information technology skills by creating methodologies to bill insurance companies. That led to Frank to found his own company in 1999, DataPlus, which helps physicians nationwide with analyzing their data.
Service to others is a natural part of who Frank is. “I started out as a volunteer at Donelson Hospital in the Emergency Room when I was 17 years old,” Frank recalls. “I volunteered full time. It was what really solidified my desire to get into emergency medicine. I was allowed in the patient areas and moved up very quickly to patient care. I remember those days extra fondly.” After obtaining his Paramedic license, he became very active with the Davidson County Rescue Squad, an over 75-year old all-volunteer organization that provides search and rescue services in Nashville. Frank also volunteered as a Paramedic at Hermitage Landing (now known as Nashville Shores).
When neighbors learned about a possible development next door, they gathered to discuss it. That potential development didn’t go through, but the result of that meeting was to form a neighborhood association so that future issues of possible developments, Codes and other issues that impact neighborhoods in a collective way. Their Neighborhood Watch formed as well and Lincoya Hills became a neighborhood that others looked up to for how neighbors came together for the greater good of all. Frank later served for a time as President of the Lincoya Hills Neighborhood Association and remains a strong leader and advocate for his neighborhood. Like all good neighborhood leaders, Frank brought his professional and personal skillset to work on behalf of Lincoya Hills.
Unbeknownst to each other at that time (and quite ironically with where we both are now), Frank and I didn’t think much of Facebook in the beginning. Around the same time Andrew Bradley completed his service as President of Bluefields Neighborhood Association and founded Hip Donelson, I was reaching out to neighborhood leaders like he and Frank, both of whom I looked up to as neighborhoods from which I wanted Donelson Hills to emulate and learn. I started to work with Andrew and learn about the benefits of the communication network that Facebook provides and how Hip Donelson was capitalizing on that. After I joined Andrew in leading the growth of the page, I began to add neighborhood and community leaders to keep it growing. Frank had the same realization that I had and soon after, he, Andrew and I began to meet regularly for lunch to talk more in-depth about Hip Donelson, what it was accomplishing and what the future could hold. The three of us laugh when we recall how we thought it best to not have a large administrative effort or deal with money and keep it organic. However, thanks to Frank’s leadership, Hip Donelson has been able to build an increasingly stronger organic network at the same time creating a bona fide non-profit organization that serves the community with success like no other.
Hip Donelson can point to great organically led successes, be it Hip D Lost & Found Pets or Donelson Neighborhood Watch Network. The Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market is one success that is recognized all over the State of Tennessee. It began as a conversation on Hip Donelson about what amenities neighbors wanted to see in Donelson. Two big topics were the Farmer’s Market and a Community Garden. The first meeting Hip Donelson led to work on both of these topics was held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Fairway Drive. We split into two teams with Frank leading the effort to create a Farmer’s Market and Lincoya Hills neighbor Jan King leading the effort that created the Donelson Community Gardens down near Heartland Towers.
As another great example of how Frank utilized all his various skillsets in the effort to create a Farmer’s Market for the community, no one in the original group that met had ever worked in a Farmer’s Market, but Frank was able to coalesce the passions and skills of those involved in the early days to create the foundation for what has become one of the most successful markets in Middle Tennessee. More than 200,000 visitors attended since the Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market and vendors have sold more than $1 million in produce and products since its beginning in 2012. In addition, Hip Donelson was the first market to partner with Piedmont Natural Gas in offering double-SNAP benefits to provide healthy food for at-risk school kids and families in need.
Frank went on to become a founding member of the Tennessee State Farmer’s Market Association and was recently elected the President of the organization. They have a vision of creating a fully covered market area so the weather does not as directly interfere with market operations. The 2016 season begins Friday, May 6, 2016, so stay tuned for another great year for our community’s Farmers Market.
Originally created as a 501c6 non-profit organization, Frank and the board worked hard to transition the organization to a 501c3 non-profit, which means individual donations are tax-deductible, giving more neighbors the opportunity to support the organization in its effort to give back to the community’s schools and non-profit organizations. Hip Donelson recently had their annual day-long visioning meeting and the question Frank asked the board is to envision where the organization will be in 2018 and if money were no object, what that vision entails. The board adopted a vision of working towards having its own building with an indoor Farmer’s market, meeting rooms, offices, event space and an area for the Hip D Lost & Found Pets program for medical care and boarding. It is an incredible testament to the leadership of Frank and the Board of Directors at Hip Donelson that the organization has come so far and it truly sets the bar in Nashville for what putting service to others before self can do for community.
Frank serves in many other ways as well. He was appointed by Mayor Karl Dean to the Metro Human Relations Commission and now serves as the Chairman. In addition, he brings his time and talents as a neighborhood leader to the broader Donelson-Hermitage-Old Hickory area as the member of the board of directors of the Neighborhoods Resource Center representing the area covered by the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Hermitage Precinct.