Unsung Heroes
Frank Stewart
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Jun 19, 2014 | 1708 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Frank Stewart first started visiting Moab in the 1990s for most of the usual reasons: mountain biking, hiking and rafting. He and his wife loved the area, and throughout the next few years they continued to come back whenever they could get time off from their busy lives in California.

Growing up as the son of a geologist, Stewart had spent his fair share of time in the desert. Eventually, the couple bought a home in Moab, and when Stewart retired, they moved here. But retirement did not slow Stewart down. He says he wasn’t ready to spend his days sitting back and relaxing.

“I’m like a border collie,” he said. “I need a job. I’m not one to sit around and do nothing.”

Stewart says he was raised with the idea that recycling as much as possible was important in order to leave enough for the future generations, and to leave no trace.

“My dad was a huge believer in recycling even before it was big,” he said.

So it seemed only natural that when Stewart was looking for volunteer work to do in Moab he ended up partnering with Sara Melnicoff of Solutions of Moab.

Now, Stewart gives of his time to several different local organizations. On the third Saturday of every month, he shows up to the Moab Post Office to help with Canyonlands Community Recycling’s paper drive. He also volunteers during the biannual electronics recycling program.

“In a way, it’s kind of selfish,” Stewart said of his volunteer work. “I do it because it keeps me busy.”

When he first moved to Moab, Stewart was surprised by the multitude of nonprofit groups in the area.

“For a small community, there’s a lot going on,” he said. “These organizations need help. They always need people.”

Much of the work that Stewart does is behind the scenes.

“I prefer the physical labor,” he said.

Usually, that involves carting bins of recycled papers at the paper drive or helping to unload trucks at the Grand County Food Bank. Recently, Stewart also helped to remove graffiti in Arches National Park.

“That was a real eye-opener,” he said. “Some of the areas were just inundated with graffiti.”

With several events planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Canyonlands National Park, Stewart said the park’s friends group can always use more volunteers.

“I think it’s important for people to know that there are a lot of opportunities out there if they want to get involved,” he said.

Although Stewart prefers working behind the scenes, Melnicoff said that he has stepped up to help on several occasions in more prominent roles. In December, the Salvation Army was struggling to find someone to oversee its bell ringing fundraiser at City Market.

“Frank answered the call to help,” she said. “He went to City Market multiple times a day to set up the bell ringers, take the cash after each shift, and put the bell and bucket away each night. It is an enormous amount of work.”

Even when he’s not working directly with an organization, Stewart and his wife work to try and leave the environment better than they found it.

“I keep a bin in the back of my truck,” he said. “We’ll go out on a Saturday for a walk and just pick things up as we go along.”

Stewart said that education and awareness are important.

“Moab is kind of an oasis,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place to live, and it’s hard to watch people not respect it.”

Like his own father, Stewart hopes that more parents will take the opportunity to teach their kids to respect the world they live in.

“Teach your kids right,” he said. “That’s where it starts.”

Stewart said that while he’s been surprised by the generosity of the people in Moab, there is always a need for more volunteers.

“It’s always nice to see a few more bodies out there helping,” he said. “You live here. Respect it. Leave no trace.”

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