For 45 years, Bainbridge resident Frank Lanza operated his business Highway Garage in the township before retiring in 2018. Since selling the business, he is spending even more time in what he has always done – giving back to the community he loves. Much of his time now is devoted to the Chagrin Valley Rotary Club.
“You have to be a go-giver as well as a go-getter,” Mr. Lanza said. “I have discovered the more you give, the more you get.”
Mr. Lanza, 79, still considers himself a workaholic even though he has retired from his 12-hour days, six days a week business schedule.
“I constantly have a job to do, and I’m always happy to help someone,” he said.
He has been a Chagrin Valley Rotary Club member for almost 41 years. “They ask me to do something and I do it,” he said.
“Why would you want to live anywhere else but here? We moved out here [in 1981] and it was the best thing we ever did,” he said. He and wife, Doris, who worked at Highway Garage as the bookkeeper, raised their four children in Bainbridge.
“There’s a lot of talent here in this area that can be put to good use by those who volunteer,” Mr. Lanza said. “And the Chagrin Valley Rotary is a big part of that.
“The Rotary is a commitment. Members are there to give back to the community and to the world,” he said. “We help in many causes including with scholarships and recognizing” students of the month in local high schools.
“It’s a great area to live in and people are great and respectful,” Mr. Lanza said of Bainbridge and the Chagrin Valley. “We have great services, including roads, police and fire, and it is a safe area. Why would you want to live anywhere else?”
Now that he is retired, he said, “I’m all about doing everything for this community. It’s been wonderful to me. People are just phenomenal. And you don’t realize it until you come from another area that’s not like this.”
In addition to the Rotary, he was also involved in the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“I like to help the community where I can.”
As to the Chagrin Valley Rotary, he invites anyone who would like to get involved to attend a Rotary meeting. Meetings are held at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Kenston Local School District’s Gardiner Center at 9421Bainbridge Road in Bainbridge.
“I would be happy to take anyone to a meeting,” he said.
Rotary member Jeff Griff said the Rotary is a worldwide organization with about 1.2 million members. The Rotary International, founded more than 100 years ago, had an original mission to eliminate polio and vaccinate children. Locally Rotaries such as Chagrin Valley Rotary give to Rotary International for causes including everything from pediatric medical help and water projects to promoting peace throughout the world.
“Our local Rotary has 55 members and we do a lot for a small-town Rotary,” Mr. Griff said of holding fundraisers and contributing to many causes. “In our Rotary, people such as Frank make a big difference. We can always count on Frank. There is nothing he wouldn’t give. He wants to make things happen and he is very humble and quiet about what he does.”
He noted that Mr. Lanza rings the red kettle for the Salvation Army to raise funds for worthy causes and gives to the Gift of Life of NEO through Rotary. Gift of Life is one of the benefactors of the Chagrin Valley Rotary.
The Chagrin Valley Rotary has targeted pediatric health in its fundraisers. The Gift of Life program once brought children from third-world countries to Rainbow Babies and Children Hospitals for heart surgeries. Now, with the help of Rotary clubs such as the Chagrin Valley Rotary, it has established pediatric cardiovascular surgical units in places like Egypt and Haiti and is opening a pediatric hospital in Kenya.
“Frank is always getting others involved,” Mr. Griff said of the Rotary goals. “He is the person we all know will do whatever it takes to accomplish our mission. He is very passionate and he is very much involved in the community. He gives emotional support to those around him and he is super supportive for us and the Rotary.
“Going out and making a difference – that’s Frank,” Mr. Griff said. “He inspires people to do more and to help others.”