When life gave us Harvey, Frannie Joseph made lemonade.
The animal lover, then 9, survived the storm unscathed, but she saw the flooding on the news, the tornadoes that had torn through parts of her Missouri City hometown. She wanted to do her part—specifically, to help the animals abandoned during the evacuations. So she and her friends whipped up gallons of powder-mix lemonade and set up a stand at the front of the neighborhood. Frannie’s wild dance moves helped to attract foot traffic.
Their first donation? $100, from her teacher. Frannie also created a GoFundMe crowdfunding page, which was widely shared. By the end of the week, after manning the lemonade stand daily for five hours at a time, they had raked in $3,500, with all proceeds going to the Humane Society of the United States.
Word of the effort got out, and the society recognized Frannie on the local news. She also won a spring break trip to Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a rescue organization that houses more than 800 domestic and exotic animals up in Murchison, near Tyler.
Now 11, Frannie continues to fundraise—this time in support of the ranch. Subsequent lemonade stands and a new GoFundMe campaign have raised roughly $2,000, and she’s organized school donation drives for items the ranch requires to operate, including trash bags and animal toys. Lately Frannie’s expanded her sales to include dog-printed T-shirts, cookies, bracelets—whatever keeps folks donating.
As far as inspiration, don’t look to her mother, Anita, a school teacher who says the ideas and execution are all Frannie. Her youngest daughter’s a strongminded, straight-A student who loves to read “except when people tell her what to read,” Anita explains, and was riding a bike without training wheels by age 2.
“For Frannie to already know her passions and be so focused—her sisters and I envy her motivation and drive,” Anita says. “If she keeps up at this pace, she’s going to do whatever she wants to in life.”
Houstonia recently caught up with Frannie to get to know her better.
You’ve been on TV, in People magazine, and now you’re talking to us. Do you like the attention?
I like it, but also, I almost asked my mom to stop the GoFundMe. It’s hard to explain. I like to help the animals, but I don’t really want random people to, like, know where we live and stuff.
That makes sense. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m in fifth grade now, and I have a dog named Maggie (pictured right), which is a boxer, and another dog named Charlie, which is a bichon. They’re great. Oh, and I live with my mom and my twin sisters.
What made you want to continue fundraising after the first lemonade stand?
We’re always doing charity stuff at school, and I sort of thought, we’ve done a lot for people, why not animals? So I asked the principal if we could do a donation drive, and that inspired me to raise money for the ranch.
The Cleveland Amory Ranch sounds fascinating. What exactly goes on there?
It’s a rescue for all kinds of animals. We would drive past the chimps, the monkeys, the cows, the deer, the ostriches, the bears, the tigers, goats, pigs, a lot of horses—they just let them roam free. Alex the Tiger was a circus act before he came to the ranch, and so were the bears. Others were in experiments at labs and stuff. So they let us see all the animals, and we painted with the animals…
You painted with the animals?
Yeah! Alex the Tiger was probably the best painter. He got all his hairs in it, and he licked the paint off the canvas. We’d squirt our favorite colors, and then he’d put his head in. It made a really cool design. His painting probably outdid mine.
What’s something you learned at the ranch?
They taught me that no matter how big or small animals are, they should all be treated the same. Humans are really big on the Earth, but we have to care about the animals, too.
It sounds like you want to work with animals when you grow up.
I really want to be a veterinarian, but I really want to work at the ranch, too. Mainly, I want to see all the animals and be their friends, but I also don’t want to see blood. I could find some job where I communicate with animals. I just watched this Jane Goodall documentary, and she watched the chimps and how they used tools to see how they communicate, and then she replicated it. It’s called Jane—you can find it on iTunes. It’s a really good movie. Other than her, I think my mom is my role model. I’m really close to my mom.
What’s the plan while you’re still in school?
I want to continue to make more money with more lemonade stands and selling the shirts and donating that money.
We hear that you’re going to Austin to meet with your representatives at the Capitol soon. What do you plan to say to the two of them?
Well, I think I’ll say, “It’s nice to meet you, want to buy a shirt?” I need to get them on the GoFundMe!