Man on a Mission
Trucker Frank Thompson is spreading a message of love and peace to anyone who will listen. Five years ago, after hearing a radio news report of an eight-person murder, Thompson, 51, decided to take a stand against violence. With the help of friends and a website, Thompson launched his Change the World campaign, a plan to stop violence and let people know that there is someone in the universe who cares for them.
Since Jan. 31, 2000, Thompson, who lives in Kirkwood, Ill., has traveled to towns in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, stopping at businesses, schools and churches to ask if he can share his message. Thompson encourages youth groups and organizations like the Lion’s Club to reach out to other people who are hurting. He also provides fliers and a sample letter that people can copy to give to their loved ones.
The Change the World website posts ideas on how to change communities, ranging from “We need more random acts of kindness” to “Stop glorifying violence.”
Thompson, who lives with his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, still hauls limestone and rock for his brother’s trucking company to support his family and his campaign. A driver for 15 years, Thompson understands the hardships of life on the road.
Since he started Change the World, Thompson says he just wants to help people before they hurt themselves or someone else. And Thompson truly believes in the power of positive relationships to change people’s lives.
“Some of these tragedies don’t have to happen if these people would just talk to someone,” he says.
Thompson is no stranger to social activism. In the mid ’80s he self-published two books about how to improve situations for farmers, inspired by his own life growing up on an Illinois farm. He sent a copy to every senator and person on the House Committee on Agriculture.
Working for the campaign has helped Karen Shaver, a friend of Thompson’s. Her husband drives for U.S.F. Holland, and she helps out with the family farm. When Shaver’s parents died, Thompson asked her to type letters for Change the World. His encouragement helped her through the difficult time, she says.
“When there is a loss, you don’t want to do anything,” Shaver says. “I didn’t want to do it but did it, and it helped to keep me busy.”
Since Thompson started Change the World five years ago, Shaver says, he has become more comfortable with himself and with speaking in front of people.
“He has no college education or training, just his personality and desire to help people,” Shaver says. “He’s out there everyday and I admire him – I couldn’t do that.”
The message of the Change the World campaign is based on Christian beliefs. Thompson, who has attended Kirkwood United Methodist Church for the past five years, says he speaks to many different organizations and doesn’t judge people based on their beliefs.
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