Steven Freatman’s angle was hardly philanthropic when he joined the Young Professionals of San Angelo.
As a 29-year-old owner of a small insurance agency, he was looking to promote himself and network with a batch of prospective business contacts. But then, he said, “I started talking too much, and people listened.”
Within two years, he was the group’s president.
Under his leadership, YPSA’s membership roster has doubled from 50 to 100 as it delves ever deeper into public service. That has included painting a home during the City of San Angelo’s Neighborhood Blitz, collecting school supplies for a local campus and raising funds for the Boys & Girls Club via a basketball tournament.
Freatman, 33, believes his contemporaries aspire to be civically minded; they simply lack the know-how. That’s where the YPSA, a forum for professional development and fellowship, comes in.
“They don’t know where to go or who to talk to,” he said of new members. “There’s less apprehension when you’re meeting with a like-minded group. Part of our growth has been related to civic duty, volunteering and getting engrossed with the community – not just sitting and watching.
“I’ve enjoyed getting involved,” he added.
A San Angelo native, Freatman grew up on the Angelo State University campus; his mother worked in the Administration Building for decades. As an undergrad, he worked as a building supervisor at the University Center and helped manage the LeGrand Alumni Center.
“I had the attitude you could be a big fish in a small pond without being overshadowed or overwhelmed,” Freatman said of ASU. “It reflects what you can also be in San Angelo. I’m one of the few who never really wanted to leave San Angelo.”
But by the time he had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Freatman was “done with school.” He got his insurance license after a friend offered him a job. Shortly after, he struck out on his own.
“I started from ground zero,” he said. “Six years later, here I am.”
He has built Freatman Insurance Agency into a successful firm with two employees. He said he thrives on the challenge of leading his own business – even the ever-present unpredictability of it.
“You always have a plan, and then it changes,” he said. “Life changes it for you. The challenge is always there. When you own your own business, everything is on your shoulders; you don’t just go to work from 9 to 5 then leave for the day. It’s what you do with that pressure that defines you.”
He said YPSA will continue to encourage its members to learn about and engage with local efforts that could use their time and talents. To that end, the group last month hosted a mixer and dinner with community leaders who are active in nonprofit work. Using the speed dating model, YPSA members mingled with a different leader during each course of the meal.
“We’re trying new things to test the waters,” Freatman said.