By Grace Davis, SMARTACUS Creative Group
“If you’re not willing to risk failure, you can't accomplish big goals," says Maggie Fronk, executive director
As executive director of Saratoga Springs-based Wellspring since 2002, Maggie Fronk is dedicated to helping survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence and providing prevention and social change initiatives.
Much of the agency's work is focused on its 24-hour hotline, which fields about 1,700 calls and results in about a 1,000 clients a year. Whatever the hour, Wellspring will house a victim, her children and her pets in a confidential location and provide an array of legal and financial assistance not only to primary victims but also to family members, friends, and employers of victims who are aware of abuse and need advice on how to help.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of both homicides and homelessness in Saratoga County. State-wide, according to the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, 50 percent of all female victims of homicide are killed by an intimate partner.
Wellspring sponsors a number of programs for about 6,000 young people annually, including one in which coaches of male high school sports teams work with their athletes on healthy relationships. Wellspring also hosts a role-playing event called "In Her Shoes" to help participants understand a victim's point of view and "In Their Shoes" to lead a discussion on dating violence.
Calling herself as a "local gal", Fronk grew up in Latham, and moved to Clifton Park during her childhood. Growing up, Fronk was an only child, who participated in gymastics, and had a lot of interest in school.
Even as a child, Fronk says she was keenly aware that "life's challenges can either be seen as roadblocks or opportunities to find one's own strengths, resilience and creativity."
"Through the work I've done over the years, I've seen a common denominator: that every person and every family at times struggles with challenges, often heart-wrenching ones with no clear solutions. That awareness helps me to be less judgmental and to look for the strengths a person has."
Aspiring to make her contribution to the world as a diplomat, Frank initially enrolled Georgetown University after graduating from high school, then transferred to Union College when the need to deal with family issues brought her home.
In her long career, which has included working with people with serious mental illness and HIV and AIDS, as well as those who are homeless, Fronk has consistently demonstrated a passion for taking on big challenges and achieving positive outcomes.
"That requires the willingness to regularly risk failure and make mistakes," she says. "If you're not willing to risk failure, you can't accomplish big goals."
With two sons, Fronk says she hopes her legacy will be having helped "a few individuals in the next generation to feel passionate, happy, productive and proud of their accomplishments in career and life."
"We all need to be conscious of our actions and thoughts so that we have respect and compassion for others, especially for those who are less advantaged or who may be struggling to be stable. We all must recognize that what may seem like bad decisions are often more understandable when we look at life not through the lens of our own experience, but through the lens of what the other person has encountered." To young people, she offers this advice: "Think about what makes your heart sing, then figure out how to incorporate that into your life, either through work or through what you do outside of your job. Feed your soul regularly."
Grace Davis is a junior in Jill Cowburn's journalism class at Saratoga Springs High School. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, performing in musicals, and activities with friends and family.