There are many reasons why people choose to help their community, offering their time, energy, or resources. And, often, we wonder what motivates or drives them to do what they do. New York-based couple Don and Lea Frain is strong believers of the Fil-Am community and have no qualms in supporting a worthwhile project. “We both consider ourselves blessed in life and have a sense of obligation to give back as long as we can,” Don said. “We look forward to using our experience and knowledge for the betterment of people in the years to come.”
Both successful in their respective careers, Don is the President and COO of Quontic Bank, Astoria, N.Y. while Lea owns the accounting firm Business Solutions Now LLC and works as an accountant at Skyline Engineering. They share their expertise by providing financial guidance to different organizations.
They were both in the market for a serious relationship when they first met. Sparks flew and they got married in 2011. Don recalled, “We met on Match.com. We noticed that we both enjoyed ballroom dancing and things grew from there.”
Don first got involved in the Fil-Am community in 2007. “Lea ran for ‘Mrs. Philippines USA’ in 2004. She felt blessed to be able to help and support other organizations for charitable causes,” Don shared, “When we met in 2007, I joined her in many charitable events.” Since then, they’ve been active members of the community.
They found that cultivating friendships with people within the community helps them deal with stress. “Our jobs are stressful. But we find that being with friends helps remove the stress,” Lea said, “Dancing, of course, helps reduce the stress but more importantly the camaraderie of the people we often see.”
Lea is also a model for Filipiniana fashion. “I’m so proud that in my own little way I’m part of the Philippine cultural awareness,” she said. Lea has graced modeling events such as Renee Salud and Leonard Co’ s fashion shows.
Even before meeting Lea, Don was no stranger to the values and culture of the Filipino people. “When I lived and worked in Asia 30 years ago, I’d often go the Philippines. I found the people friendly and gracious.” Today, his opinion has not changed. “I enjoy going to the Philippines to visit Lea’s family and attend the numerous events in the N.Y. area. Their dedication to helping those in need back home is inspirational,” he told Fil-Am Who’s Who.
It was by accident that Don is now in the banking industry. “When I was looking for a job at the age of 19, a recruiter sent me to a finance company. I got the job and from there went into banking. I always liked working with numbers so it was a good fit,” he shared. As a bank executive, he’s responsible for overseeing quality banking services, hassle-free mortgage process, and good customer relations. What sets Quontic Bank apart is its services that are geared towards immigrant communities. “We’re a real estate finance savings bank that lends primarily to immigrant communities. We also have far more flexibility with respect to the interest rates we will pay on any deposit account,” he said.
Don applauds the Filipinos desire to advance in digital mobile banking. The United States has made many improvements in this area (mobile banking) but Filipinos appear more eager to learn more modern approaches.
Lea was a marketing manager of an export company in the Philippines before coming to the U.S. Lea came to the U.S. upon the invitation of a friend and that same friend convinced her to stay for good. She went to Plaza Business College to update herself with accounting technology. She then landed a job as a bookkeeper in a wellness center. Lea always finds herself working in several jobs in addition to her full-time job. In 2009, she decided to fully concentrate on her consulting business and continue to work for several different companies through 2016. She slowed down in 2017 to deal with her property investments in the Philippines. Currently, Lea continues to engage business clients through her company Business Solutions Now LLC, in addition to her job at Skyline Engineering LLC.
Lea believes that her father passed the torch to her when it comes to humanitarian endeavors. She grew up watching her father who always lends a helping hand to the less fortunate. Her support in several fundraising events in the Tri-State proves she’s fully committed to promoting humanitarian welfare. She thinks her role is not only giving financial support but also setting an example to those who can afford to share what they have. Also, she considers that by helping people in need, it gives them hope and also inspires other people to help.
As active members of the community, the couple supports organizations such as Filipino Social Club of New York Inc., Knights of Rizal and Ladies for Rizal, Metropolitan Chapter, Elmhurst-North Corona Lions Club, Friends Indeed, and Elmhurst Queen of Hearts. A foundation to support the Cancer Warriors Foundation located in Batangas, Philippines is in the works.
“When I first saw these children stricken with cancer, my heart broke. I vowed to dedicate myself to helping them financially,” Lea said. In fact, the Frains were recently on a medical/humanitarian mission to the Philippines as part of their commitment to helping the community.
In 2017, they were Grand Marshals of the 27th Philippine-American Friendship Parade and Festival held in Jersey City, spearheaded by the Philippine-American Friendship Committee Inc. (PAFCOM), an organization that provides social services and does charitable work in the Jersey City area. Initially, Lea had her doubts that Don would participate as a Grand Marshal, but he surprised everyone by accepting the invitation. The support was overwhelming,” Lea said. In 10 years, Don hopes to see the different organizations united and
When asked about their secret to maintaining a successful marriage despite their busy lives, Lea answered, “It’s hard in today’s world but first and foremost to trust each other. Realize that you’ll often have different points of view but be willing to listen and compromise.”
Don added, “It’s difficult to balance. But helping others, good friends, and the occasional time alone helps.” To unwind, the couple goes ballroom dancing, overnight stays at the Jersey Shore, frequent visits to the Philippines, and long drives.–Maricar CP Hampton