Tom Reed, executive director of Unity Shoppe, opened the Sept. 22 program and served as emcee. A piano and music interlude was led by Mike Willbanks, and everyone joined in to sing a rousing “God Bless America.”
Taylor Sampanis led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Scott Lisea gave the Invocation & Prayers for our leaders.
The guest speaker this year was Monte Fraker, partner and director of operations for the Peterson family’s local McDonald’s operations. Fraker has worked with the Petersons for the past 35 years, starting at a local restaurant at age 17.
Over three decades, he has been instrumental in helping build the franchise. More important, he has exhibited many qualities that have garnered respect from his employer and peers, and he has served as a positive role model for hundreds if not thousands of employees in the greater Santa Barbara-Goleta community.
“Jesus is the greatest healer,” Fraker began, “and my life is a testimony to this.”
He described how he grew up in the Hidden Valley area of Santa Barbara when it was a close-knit neighborhood with many kids. He enjoyed lots of activities with many friends, such as sleepovers, barbecues, sports and after-school plays.
Recalling that his mother dropped him off with his siblings at Sunday school, he said he accepted Jesus Christ during his elementary school years, but he later stopped going and didn’t grow in his faith.
Things changed suddenly when Fraker entered La Cumbre Junior High School. His two best friends spread rumors and untruths about him, which caused most of the youngsters at the school to avoid him and stop talking to him. Although devastated, he never told his parents.
“I completely shut down,” he explained. “Shame leads to isolation. I didn’t tell anyone how I felt.
“As Thoreau said: Most men live lives of quiet desperation. That was me.”
One place of solace was the junior high school jazz band.
“They didn’t care about the rumors,” Fraker said. “I played the alto sax. The band was my refuge.”
Unfortunately, some of the rumors about Fraker persisted at Santa Barbara High, where he said he survived by “staying under the radar.” But he said what really rescued him and when “the real Monte came out” was when he got a job at McDonald’s on Milpas Street.
“I had to learn to deal with the public and many kinds of customers,” Fraker recalled. “I even learned how to flirt!”
Fraker went on to describe the many people who he believes, by God’s hand, became guide posts in his life. One was the captain of the basketball team, Brad Armstrong, who put him on the squad and told him, “Just keep shooting.”
The first person he told about his shame and isolation was Cindy Suzuki, his first girlfriend.
“I told her about the rumors and the pain,” he said. “She understood me and embraced me as a person even more.”
Scott Ericson of McDonald’s gave Fraker a shot at being a manager and said, “I see a leader in you, Monte.”
Other pivotal faith experiences at Trinity Baptist Church and Mount Hermon summer camp “changed everything,” he said. Mount Hermon is where Fraker met his future wife, Brienna; they now have two grown children, Spencer and Taylor Jeanette.
Fraker’s message of restoration and hope concluded with some simple suggestions, including, “Encourage one another; if you have a good thought about someone, tell them — it’s easy now with a text! Be bold and confront quickly. Forgiveness is powerful.”
Breakfast sponsors included the Armand Hammer Foundation, Barbara and George Armstrong, Keith Berry, Bryant & Sons, Caliber Home Loans, Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, Channel Islands YMCA, Dianne and Hugh Davis, Silvio Di Loreto, Jill and Kent Englert, Hands 4 Others, Linda and David Hughes, Jordano’s, Craig Case, O’Connor Pest Control, David Peterson, Village Properties and many more.
The community event is sponsored by the Tri-Counties Christian Business Men’s Connection and is coordinated by the Santa Barbara Community Prayer Committee.
Click here for more information, or contact committee spokesman Jim Langley at 805.966.1700.
— Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article includes reportinf Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.