Our Voice: We’re thankful for Frank Armijo’s legacy

The list of Frank Armijo’s business accomplishments is lengthy and easy to find online. He is well respected in the business community and around the country.

But Tri-Citians owe him an extra debt of gratitude.

Either through direct contact with him or through the ripple affect, Armijo has bettered the life of many in this community.

This list of service to the community is incomplete, but here are a few ways he has touched our lives.

Armijo was one of the founders of Leadership Tri-Cities, a program that recently graduated its 20th class and has produced hundreds of community leaders. These graduates learn about the community, complete projects that improve our quality of life and go on to serve on boards of agencies throughout the Mid-Columbia. If you have used the Lewis and Clark Trail, visited the Cancer Center Serenity Garden or have known someone in hospice, you have directly benefited. In fact, it would be difficult to find an agency that has not been touched by Leadership Tri-Cities over the past two decades.

Anyone who has attended Washington State University Tri-Cities since it became a four-year school — and the thousands who will in the future — also can thank Armijo. He served the vice chairman of TRIDEC’s Higher Education Committee in 2005 and is credited with unifying the community’s push for a four-year campus here.

Landing a four-year school took a lot of community effort and a couple of tries at lobbying the Legislature. In the beginning theses efforts were disjointed and the state Legislature saw that discord. It wasn’t until we started pulling together, that we got the project to move.

He also was a founding member of the Hispanic Academic Achievers Program. This scholastic program started in 1990 with 237 Pasco students. In the past 25 years it has recognized and encouraged more than 51,000 students and awarded more than $2 million in scholarships. But mostly it provides hope and pathways to success. It plants in students the idea that they can go to college and it gives their parents information on how to make that happen.

HAAP also encourages youth to give back to the community so, again, people who aren’t directly recognized in HAAP still belong to a community that is better because of the program.

This is a pathway Armijo has walked.

His parents were immigrant workers. He attended Pasco schools and Columbia Basin College. He was the first person in his family to graduate from college.

The road has been well traveled and at each stop, he has made changes and improvements. He didn’t so much give back as he paid it forward.

As he leaves us for a new position providing corporate oversight for Mission Support Alliance, he leaves the Mid-Columbia a better place. We thank him for his contributions and wish him well.