Edgar Martinez now swings a hammer

March 29, 2011

By Josh Liebeskind

Local resident is passionate about giving back

To say Frank Perry is a busy man is quite an understatement.

Frank Perry (left) and Edgar Martinez pause in the middle of work to wave while building a home in February with other Habitat for Humanity of East King County volunteers in Puerto Rico. Contributed

Between volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity, The Martinez Foundation, The Moyer Foundation, the College Success Foundation, Washington State Mentoring and Zion Preparatory Academy, Perry is always busy with something. And to top it all off, Perry serves on the boards of a couple of those organizations.

Did I mention he also he does human resource consulting on the side?

“The days and the weeks just fly by with activities,” Perry recently said with a laugh.

Yes, Perry — a former senior vice president of human resources at Lanoga/ProBuild — is a busy person, but that didn’t stop him from taking five days off to help build a house for a low-income family in Puerto Rico.

The East King County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity organized the trip, which took place Feb. 14-18.

The trip was special not only for the work that the group was able to accomplish, but also for one of the members who joined them: Seattle Mariners legend and Puerto Rico native Edgar Martinez.

Perry, who lives on the plateau, said being able to swing a hammer next to Martinez was a memory that won’t be easily forgotten. And the respect is mutual. The former designated hitter said he thinks very highly of Perry, whom he works with through his own foundation, The Martinez Foundation.

“He gives a lot of time to organizations,” Martinez said in a phone interview. “And with our foundation, he put a lot of time and work and is very generous with his time. He’s just a great guy.”

Martinez’s assessment of Perry isn’t isolated. David Thompson, a vice president at Microsoft and trip member, also provided a glowing description of Perry.

“Frank is a wonderful person,” Thompson said. “He’s got incredible people skills … great motivational and supportive guy. He’s a great person to talk to for advice.”

So, Perry’s a generous man and willing to put forth the effort — but why trade a week of a busy schedule for hard labor?

Well , the answer’s really quite simple. Perry appreciates the work all nonprofits do, but an organization like Habitat gives him the opportunity to see the impact his donations are making.

“You can actually see where your money — or your sweat equity — goes. You’re building a home,” Perry said. “Sometimes when you give money, it kind of goes into a black hole and you don’t know for certain where your money went.

“With Habitat, if it’s your money that you give, you can see exactly where your money has gone. It’s building a home for a needy family. If you want to give your sweat equity, you can go and work at a job site and do a myriad of tasks.”

For Perry — who has been on numerous other job sites — the trip was an eye-opener. The team members had limited down time but when they did, they visited some of the poorer areas of Puerto Rico.

“I saw some areas of Puerto Rico that were heart wrenching,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that don’t have the kind of housing that you would expect people to have.”

That is what helps drive his commitment to Habitat — and the other nonprofits. An idea that seems to never stay under the surface for very long in a conversation with Perry: giving.

“When you can roll up your sleeves and swing a hammer with Edgar Martinez and Dave Thompson and see the beads of sweat coming off of them in the Puerto Rico heat, you say, ‘You know what, this is what it’s all about,’” Perry said. “Good people giving to people who are in need.”

Josh Liebeskind is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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