Each month throughout the new year we will be featuring a behind-the-scenes profile of one member of our dedicated Board of Directors, who not only give generously and guide diligently, but who also volunteer personally in the various outreaches of True Freedom. We begin this series with founding Board Member and Chairman of our Board, Frank T. Sinito.
Frank is the President and CEO of Millennia Housing Companies and American Preservation Builders. In 1985 he acquired his first apartment community of only 14 units.
By the time of the companies’ founding in 1995, his portfolio had grown to about 1,000 units. Frank envisioned creating affordable housing communities that he could comfortably raise his own family in and proudly call home. Today, The Millennia Companies operate under that same vision and has over 30 years' experience in preserving, developing and managing multifamily housing for thousands of residents all across the country. In addition to his business interests, Frank is passionately involved with several local mercy outreaches, including a longtime partnership with The City Mission. For nearly twenty years, twice each month Frank and his wife Malisse host residents of The City Mission at their restaurant Lockkeepers for a prayer breakfast; homeless men who walked the streets of Cleveland the night before are offered an opulent buffet and treated with dignity and respect. While Frank financially supports many worthwhile organizations, at True Freedom, not only does he serve as Chairman of the Board, but also personally volunteers in the prison ministry, sharing the dramatic testimony of his father’s conversation to faith in Jesus Christ, which ultimately led to Frank’s own conversion.
Frank’s initiation into the world of prison ministry began at the age of 15 when his father, Thomas (Tommy) Sinito was first arrested in connection with a highly sensationalized, organized crime investigation in Cleveland. Frank experienced first-hand the shock and devastation that accompanies the arrest and prosecution of a loved one, the embarrassment and hardship such an event brings to the family, and the enormous void that befalls a young man devoid of a father. Tommy was released eighteen months later, only to be indicted a second time for more significant charges, this time receiving a 20-year sentence.
Frank spent his entire adult life visiting his father at both State and Federal Correctional Institutions, receiving collect phone calls and writing numerous letters, struggling to keep the lines of communication open. In 1986 a transformative event took place that would forever change the destinies of both Tommy and Frank Sinito. Shortly before Easter of that year an FBI agent handed Tommy a book entitled Mere Christianity that caused him to begin thinking deeply about spiritual things and prompted him to attend an Easter Sunday Service where Chuck Colson (the former Nixon counselor at the epicenter of the Watergate scandal) shared how faith in Jesus Christ transformed and redeemed his life. Later that night Tommy surrendered his life to Christ. Over the next eleven years, he lived out his new faith so intentionally that he impacted the entire culture of the prisons where he served his time, until he tragically died on the prison yard of a heart attack at Belmont Correctional at the age of 59. The sudden loss of his father had a powerful impact on Frank. When the prison shipped Tommy’s property to Frank, the box only contained a few precious possessions, including among them a well-used pair of running shoes and a worn-out Bible. As Frank began reading his father’s copy of the Word of God, reading the notes Tommy had made in the margins and allowing the Holy Spirit to penetrate his heart, he surrendered his own life to Jesus Christ. Shortly thereafter Frank began volunteering with a local prison ministry, visiting jails and prisons, working with the men and providing them jobs upon release. He later went on the Board of that organization, before helping to launch True Freedom.
In his role as Chairman of the Board, Frank works very closely with Executive Director Mike Swiger, advising on the day-to-day operations of the organization, as well as helping to set mission and vision goals. With the unemployment rate of ex-offenders hovering at 75%, True Freedom has launched several new ambitious initiatives that are delivered faith-neutral in order to equip incarcerated men and women in 21st Century skills. In 2015 True Freedom installed a state-of-the art computer lab at the Grafton Reintegration Center, where men are being taught Microsoft Office software. In 2016 we installed a Barber Shop and Shoe Shine shop, where inmates who hold valid barber licenses are able to cut the hair of staff and volunteers, and received compensation that can be used to aid in their re-entry. Most recently True Freedom launched an initiative very near to Frank’s heart, whereby inmates during their final year of incarceration will be released under the ministry’s supervision, eight hours per day, to gain real-work work experience. This pre-release pre-employment program will roll out in January 2017 as a national pilot program with Frank’s companies participating in the initial roll-out. “Leading men and women to a vital relationship with Jesus Christ and assisting them transform their lives is why True Freedom exists,” Frank Sinito recently said, “And that’s why I will always hire and give rehabilitated ex-felons a second chance.”
Through his companies Frank seeks to provide quality housing to the very least of the least. This passion is reflected in True Freedom’s outreaches to the homeless and those trapped in addiction. Every Saturday for twenty-three years True Freedom’s dedicated volunteers set up a roving kitchen on the streets in front of three homeless shelters and serve over 400 hot meals to those many in our society deem as unworthy. In addition to providing food and clothing, those who receive our help are encouraged to attend our weekly Addiction Recovery meeting that is held in the inner-city of Cleveland. With the heroin death rate in Ohio leading the nation, this program is on the very front line in the life-and-death battle for recovery.
While True Freedom has grown rapidly, with five full-time and five part-time staff and over 150 volunteers, the organization’s DNA is intertwined with that of its Chairman. With an exceptionally high volunteer-to-staff ratio and overhead kept to just over 5% of budget, True Freedom demonstrates the efficiency, excellence, and innovation so characteristic in all of Frank’s companies.