New scholarship honors Frank Rinaldi

Published on November 10, 2021

This is a photo of Frank and Denise Rinaldi

Frank and Denise Rinaldi

NORTH EAST, Md. – Cecil College is proud to announce the creation of the Frank Rinaldi Community Service Scholarship. This endowed scholarship fund encourages and supports students who demonstrate an active interest in service to their community. This scholarship was established as a memorial to Frank Rinaldi, whose life was spent helping those less fortunate within the community.

Frank Rinaldi was a member of the second graduating class at Cecil Community College, established in 1969. One day, in the parking lot of Elkton High School, where Cecil College was first housed, Frank had a fortuitous encounter with a young woman, Denise Sakers.

“Neither one of us was too interested in the other, and we just said ‘Hello’ and went our separate ways. But God had other plans and brought us back together, and we were married the day I was supposed to be attending my college graduation from Towson University,” said Denise Rinaldi, who adored her husband throughout their 47-year marriage. Frank Rinaldi passed away on Aug. 7, 2020.

Frank Rinaldi graduated from Cecil Community College in 1971 with a business degree while Denise earned an associate degree in education. The College was eventually renamed Cecil College in 2007. Over the next 15 years, Frank applied the business skills he learned at Cecil College in many business ventures. He was known for viewing every experience as a learning opportunity, which prepared the path to his future.

In 1997, Frank and Denise Rinaldi opened the doors to the Ray of Hope Mission Center in Port Deposit with a vision of helping families and individuals become self-sufficient. They accomplished their goal by offering short-term support to those who became unemployed and required emergency assistance as well as long-term help for the elderly, disabled, or working families who needed supplemental aid.

“The knowledge he gained at Cecil College and in his working life was vital to his ability to open a business from scratch with little to no outside support in the very beginning,” said Denise Rinaldi. “He was grateful for the skills he learned at Cecil College, and he gave all the credit for his accomplishments to the Lord.”

The Ray of Hope Mission provides food and clothing as well as assistance with medical needs, housing assistance, and utility support for the less fortunate in the community. The Rinaldis began with three hundred dollars in the bank and grew a business with a yearly budget exceeding three hundred thousand dollars in less than five years.

In 2020, the Ray of Hope Mission provided 115,840 pounds of food, 6,421 pounds of produce, and 5,000 pounds of bread, along with 200 Thanksgiving food baskets and 210 Christmas food baskets. The mission didn’t allow the pandemic to darken children’s dreams on Christmas morning, as it provided more than 800 toys to 181 children.

“Frank wanted his life to make a difference in this world, and he did. This scholarship will enable him to continue to make a difference in the lives of those in our community and the students Cecil College is preparing for the future. I know he would be honored to know that this scholarship has been formed and that, in some small way, he will continue to serve others with financial support to make their visions for their futures become a reality as well,” said Denise Rinaldi.

To apply for this and other Cecil College scholarships, visit If you are interested in donating to this scholarship and supporting a student through a tax-deductible gift, please contact the Cecil College Foundation at or visit