‘Herstory’ award honors Concord resident for helping families in crisis

‘Herstory’ award honors Concord resident for helping families in crisis

‘Herstory’ award honors Concord resident for helping families in crisis
State Sen. Steve Glazer presented Concord resident Janet Frazier with District 7’s “Women Making Herstory” award.

CONCORD, CA (April 28, 2023) — Janet Frazier’s life changed forever in December 2000, when she received a phone call that every parent fears.

Her two daughters, Stephanie, 20, and Lindsey, 17, were in a car accident and being rushed to a hospital in Roseville. She left her home in Concord with nothing, racing to the hospital 1½ hours away.

Stephanie did not survive the accident, and Lindsey was in critical condition. After an endless day and night at Lindsey’s bedside, Frazier stood up and almost fainted. A nurse realized that Frazier had not eaten anything all day and offered to share her sandwich. That act of kindness was something Frazier never forgot.

Lindsey was transferred to Kaiser Walnut Creek and eventually recovered. She now lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

“The grief and then the worry for my other daughter, it was a double whammy,” Frazier recalled. “You have a hard time functioning day to day.”

Creating a caring network

Eventually, Frazier decided she needed to do something to channel her anxiety and grief. She approached a nurse at Kaiser Walnut Creek and asked if she could bring food for families who unexpectedly end up at the hospital with nothing, as she had. The nurse was thrilled, saying it was the No. 1 thing families in crisis needed.

Frazier began bringing little bags of snacks and non-perishable meal items before work each week. As an employee of Chevron, she was lucky to have co-workers who helped her assemble bags on their lunch hour. After a local newspaper featured her story on the front page, more people wanted to help and to donate. In 2005, she formed a non-profit, the Network of Care.

For her efforts, state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, chose Frazier to be this year’s recipient of District 7’s “Women Making Herstory” award.

Frazier retired from Chevron after 41 years in 2020 and enlisted the help of young adults with special needs to help assemble the food bags, called Bags of Hope.

“Bags of Hope has been very universal in teaching our students vocational skills,” says Frances Krohn, a teacher with the Liberty High School Gateway Program. “It includes a variety of different tasks like filing, stapling, shipping, labeling and taking inventory. With these skills, some of our students have gotten jobs in grocery stores and at UPS.”

Frazier added: “These skills help them transition to adult life and prepare them to hold and maintain jobs and to live independently. It’s a win-win, both for the families whom we are able to help and for the students who are learning valuable vocational skills.”

Paying it forward

These bags have now been delivered to more than 340,000 families throughout California, with 2,000 bags shipped each month.

One recipient named Crystal wrote: “Wow. I received a bag today during my stay at UCSF with my 10-year-old daughter who is admitted here. I was in awe of this hospital and all the care and services provided. I looked up this website and read the insert to the bag and sobbed. I just want to say thank you, and this meal was so crucial to me here that I am at loss for words. What a beautiful daughter you have, and may she rest in peace knowing you created this in her memory. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will be paying it forward and donating.”

Julie Pierce, a former Clayton City Council member, serves on the board for the Network of Hope. “It’s a terrific service for those who are in a very difficult situation,” says Pierce.

Pierce says the “Herstory” award is gratifying for those who know Frazier. “Janet is a doer; she is very caring. About 90% of the work done by the organization is done by Janet, all volunteered time,” Pierce notes.

Glazer presented the award on March 20 in Sacramento, with Lindsey at her mom’s side.

“It was a special moment for me to honor Janet at the Capitol,” Glazer says. “She has put her heart and soul into her life projects to offer care and support for women and families who have lost children or are worrying about them as they lay in hospital beds.”

Frazier says she feels lucky to be able to honor Stephanie while helping other families. “I have met a lot of great people through this work.”

For more information on how to help this work to continue, visit thenetworkofcare.org.

Kara Navolio
Kara Navolio
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Kara Navolio is a freelance writer, telling stories of real life heroes and interesting people for several local newspapers since 2015, including The Pioneer and Lamorinda Weekly.  She is also the editor of a local magazine, Northgate Living, and her debut children’s picture book Everybody Can Dance! was  released by Brandylane Publishers, Inc. in May 2019.  She has lived in Walnut Creek with her husband for 30 years and is the mom of two now grown children.