paper cut out family held out hands

Pete Franklin's Legacy

God's Calling for Foster Care

The Bair Foundation celebrates the history and legacy of Pete Franklin. We celebrate his ministry and service to God, his community and to our most vulnerable children in foster care.

A Lifetime of Service

Celebrating Pete Franklin for dedication and devotion to foster care

Eighty-four-year-old Pete Franklin is not looking for awards. No accolades or memories of a celebrated life. He has been uncovering countless plaques, award certificates, and newspaper clippings. These memories of his service, and love for others, keep showing up as he prepares his office for a friend’s stay.

Franklin has been clearing spaces, and opening his heart and home for a long time. Four decades worth of making room for troubled teens from the black and white community. The mementos represent more than achievements. The achievements include; “Father of the Year” awards, certificates for serving on countless community boards, and spearheading a multitude of ministries. They are testaments to lives changed. The results of his obedience to God have led him through every decade of his life. He is happy he listened and obeyed. Because, the lives that he cannot even number, represent his obedience to His Lord.

head shot Pete Franklin

AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH:  Answering God’s call

Pete and his first wife Ethel were known in the community for taking in troubled teens. A lot of them. Often times, even the kid’s families would end up staying with them. It was God who brought Pete in contact with Bill Bair, the founder of The Bair Foundation. They began taking placements of more kids who needed a Godly man like Pete Franklin.

“It just so happened that I was one of the few black people that took in foster care kids. We did it, but it was untraditional. That’s the black culture – we take care of kids, whether they are ours or someone else’s. We never trusted an agency back then,” said Franklin.

“When I talked to Bill – and he told me what the Lord told him – that he left his job to care for these kids. I started to see what they were doing, before they were even established or had a name. He was so open. He was for real and was spiritually-based. It wasn’t about money – it was about placing kids in God-fearing homes,” he added.

In the early 70’s, Franklin was a supervisor at Rockwell, a factory in PA. He listened to God, and followed in Bill Bair’s footsteps when he decided to take an early retirement. Like Bill Bair, he went into full-time ministry, to help foster children. It was then, that they created the Oasis Love Home Ministry. The Bair Foundation become the placement agency of choice.

A SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION: SERVING WITH PURPOSE

Franklin knew that God had called him to this ministry.
Laura Hawkins was the first director of the Child Care Division at Bair in 1967. She talked about the impact that Pete and his first wife Ethel had on her and her family. Hawkins also served as a case manager for countless children who came through the Franklin home.

Pete and Ethel Franklin had already been taking in kids for over five years. This was before their 25-year partnership with The Bair Foundation. They were bringing in kids who were tough and had difficult behaviors. According to Hawkins, they never said no. Bair knew they could count on Pete to take on kids who Franklin explains felt like it was ‘their last chance’.

A LEGACY OF LOVE: IMPACTING GENERATIONS

“They were always, always available. They were going to reach every kid that came through. Whether it was for a short amount of time or an extended period,” said Hawkins.

“Ethel would spend regular time in prayer and fasting over their children. And Pete interceded for many kids – including mine. A lot of prayer was going on by both of them,” Hawkins noted when asked to recall their work.
She talked about a time when one of the kids was in trouble at school. Pete had worked a double shift. He had not slept for hours, but went into the school with her right after work to meet with the principal.

“He had such an anointing, and the ability to express exactly what this boy needed. By the time Pete finished talking, the principal told us that he would do whatever he could to help this boy get the help he needed to succeed in school,” Hawkins said.

She explained that Franklin had a gift for reaching the toughest kids, but he always credited it to God.
When asked about why he did so well knowing what kids needed, he explained, “This is God at work. It’s not Pete Franklin. Pete Franklin learned how to just make himself available.”

DESTINED TO BE HIS CHILD

He always knew that he was God’s child. He always knew that there was something special about what God wanted to do in his life. Pete was born out of wedlock. His mother told him the story of how she traveled to Brooklyn by train to get an abortion at her parent’s wishes. But God had plans not to harm him, but to give him a great hope and a future. She kept hearing the train wheel’s sound, clickity clack, clickity clack. They turned into, turn back, turn back on that long ride in her mind. When she arrived in Brooklyn, she promptly exited the train. She immediately got on the returning train to find shelter at her Godmother’s house.

“God was in the beginning. Because I was raised without a father – I knew what it felt like to not have a father,” said Franklin.

He learned to trust God at an early age. He was made fun of and would fight because kids would tease him about not having a father. One day, he threw a rock at another kid’s head and by the time he got home, his mom already knew. “My mom asked me, why are you so hateful? “I wasn’t hateful, I was hurt. I said, you know why – it’s because I don’t have a father,” said Franklin.

He explained, that his mother reminded him that everyone has a father. She said, God is your father. God brought you here!

“I took it literally. God’s my father? I’m special! God is my father! And it was the truth. I was such a sensitive kid and God knew I needed to hear that I was His,” said Franklin.

CHAMPIONING DIVERSITY

The charisma that God placed in him had not been explained to him, but he knew that it wasn’t him. It opened up the door for Franklin to go into the white community, and he admits that back then, it was hard because it was a different time.

holding-hands-diverse

When Franklin was a supervisor at Rockwell, they voted him as Man of the Year. A plaque from a church organization highlights him as Father of the Year. He spearheaded a program for a ministerial association. He organized community outreach programs – too many to count. Franklin always said yes to what God had called him to do. The 60s through the 90s were a blur because he was all in – every single place God wanted him to be, he showed up and served. Franklin decided to take an early retirement to start his ministry. He added whatever God led him to, he would go. Whether it was a seat on the board for The Red Cross, or the Drug and Alcohol board, he said yes. If it was as an advisor for a new school for foster children, he never stopped helping the kids and their families.

His ministries, Oasis Love Home Ministries, and The Black Adoptable Children’s Association (BACA), partnered with The Bair Foundation. While mentoring and saying yes to every child and teen, the large amount placed by The Bair Foundation, he also taught parents. He taught parents on how to parent therapeutic children. Many Bair families learned the ins and outs and the reliance on God in guiding kids from difficult places.

Bill Bair and Pete Franklin formed a bond of friendship because their mission was aligned. That mission was to protect and provide for our most vulnerable kids in foster care. Pete was part of The Bair Foundation’s board and was the first black man to serve on Bair’s board.

“I was able to bring children in and The Bair Foundation accepted them – black and white – and they had accepted me. There was a time a black person wouldn’t be on a board of a white organization. But the Bair Foundation wasn’t a white organization. They were a Christian organization. They proved it. That’s the difference,” Franklin said.

He shifted gears from his career to pour his life into fostering and mentoring others. He became not only the first black foster family at Bair, but took a seat at the table as its first black board member.

WISDOM FOR LEADERS

Pete Franklin’s story at The Bair Foundation is one of groundbreaking involvement and leadership. It emphasizes the importance of diversity in fostering while supporting children with complex and emotional challenges.
When asked about what advice he would give, especially to people of color in leadership roles, he answered,

“If God has given you a vision. It’s not yours, it’s His. He’s given people the ability to carry out this vision. But you’re the motivator. You have to keep that vision before them. They will bring it about. Don’t get upset when they bring it about, and they say it’s because this is what we did, because it’s God’s vision. As long as it gets results, don’t worry about who gets the credit for it. See, when you stand before the Lord, then He’s going to give you your crown. Be honest and truthful with yourself.

Do whatever you can to see it come into fruition. God will use whoever he chooses to bring it about.
That’s my answer. In leadership, I think leaders are born, I don’t think they’re made.”

The Bair Foundation celebrates the history and legacy of Pete Franklin. We celebrate his ministry and service to God, his community and to our most vulnerable children in foster care.

BECOME A FOSTER PARENT THROUGH THE BAIR FOUNDATION

Is God calling you to a ministry of caring for children and teens? Since 1967, The Bair Foundation has been committed to building strong children, strong families, and strong communities. It is through loving foster parents that children have a sense of belonging and a loving home. If you are interested in Becoming a Foster Parent, you can request no-obligation information about fostering through The Bair Foundation here and a team member will contact you directly.

 

With 250,000 children entering foster care each year, our work is never done.

You can take the first step toward providing the loving home that every kid deserves.

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