NC State alum Marsha Hargette talks about returning to Raleigh and her new role at Frankie Lemmon.
As told to Ayn-Monique Klahre
Just about four weeks into the job, Marsha Hargette is the new Executive Director of the Frankie Lemmon Foundation, which benefits the Frankie Lemmon School and Developmental Center for children with and without disabilities. The school was named after Frank and Georgia Lemmon’s son, Frankie, who was born with Down syndrome in the 1960s. Since the beginning with just three students in 1965 at the Hudson Memorial Church, the school expanded to 25 students at Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Five Points and just two years ago to a new facility in northeast Raleigh that will serve up to 125 children once it’s fully functional. Here, we speak to Hargette on her background and future vision for Frankie Lemmon.
Where were you before Frankie Lemmon?
I moved here from Williamsburg, VA, where I was the vice president for resource development and marketing at United Way. My background has been in nonprofit management and fundraising. Not all of the organizations I have worked with focus on children, but it’s where I find the most satisfaction and happiness.
Why did you decide to come to Raleigh?
I’m from this area and went to NC State, and wanted to get back home. I have a daughter with special needs and was looking into services offered in Raleigh and came across Frankie Lemmon School, and as they say, ‘The rest is history’!
Truly coming here to be a part of the Frankie Lemmon School and Foundation was the biggest draw. I am pulled to their mission. They doing an exceptional job of serving children with and without disabilities. They have achieved being a staple in the community for 50 plus years and that is pretty amazing for any organization. They also have a nationally recognized event, Triangle Wine and Food Experience, that I am thrilled to experience and be a part of.
How does it feel being back here?
It feels like coming home! I am very happy to be back. Raleigh and the surrounding area have grown so much. I was surprised and delighted by all that’s going on. The city as a whole has a very cool vibe going on.
Have you had any great moments at Frankie Lemmon so far?
To be completely honest: I get three of those moments a day, if not more! All it takes is walking the halls of the school and you see firsthand the love and support the teachers and therapists give to the kids, and it fills your heart. And it isn’t just the teachers, the Foundation staff, Board, volunteers, and community partners—everyone believes in the work being done and is committed to helping the Frankie Lemmon students reach their full potential. It’s truly a magical place.