This year, the Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs will honor Rev. Don Ford and his wife, Barbara, as the Fourth of July Parade marshals.
The Rotary Club went through an extensive selection process to identify a person or persons who would best exemplify this year’s parade theme of “Celebrating Community.” Don and Barbara stood out for their extensive participation and involvement in our community.
Don and Barbara both grew up in southern California. Barbara graduated from Mt. San Antonio College and Don from the University of Redlands. Barbara’s fondest memory of her early years is the relationships she formed through her Girl Scout troop over a 15-year period. After all these years, this group of friends is getting together soon for a 50-year reunion.
Don is a member of the Redlands Athletic Hall of Fame because of excelling on their football, track and baseball teams. He is proudest of his college athletic career even though he later played professionally for the Oakland Raiders.
Don and Barbara are not your traditional “pastor and wife team.” Barbara did not marry a United Methodist minister, but chose to support Don in his calling to enter the ministry even though she is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They have been fondly called the “M&M couple” (Methodist and Mormon).
How does that work? According to them, “It is simple.” They summarize it by paraphrasing a line in Scripture: “We love God, and we love each other; we have done so for almost 28 years.”
From his previous posting in Paonia, Colo., Don was chosen to be the pastor of the United Methodist Church here in August 1999. They have loved being here ever since — and Pagosans have loved having them here.
The Fords describe Pagosa as a town of very talented people. “The artistic talent found here, per capita, is beyond any that we have seen and enjoyed anywhere else; yet the most significant characteristic of Pagosa is the way the people reach out to others. If all communities reached out beyond themselves to help others, less would be expected of the government.”
A local program which exemplifies community helping community is the Pagosa Outreach Connection (POC). Don was instrumental in the formation of this outreach that is made up of nine different faith-based organizations, six community-based organizations (Rotary is one) and the Department of Human Services to help those in need in our community. Last year over $100,000 assisted those who suddenly needed financial assistance with rent, utilities, eyeglasses, car repairs, moving expenses or other expenses that threatened to “drown” a lot of people because of unexpected circumstances affecting their lives.
Someone once said that if you wanted something done, give the job to a busy person. Don and Barbara are classic examples of that. In addition to POC, Don and his church provide a food pantry. He is also the coordinator of Loaves and Fishes.
The Fords like to say, “No one needs to go hungry in Pagosa. All they need do is ask, and they will be fed.”
Barbara, in her own low-key fashion, is an equally strong supporter and worker for the community. She is involved in many of the programs at her church, is active with the Mountain View Homemakers, helps with the county fair, cooks for Loaves and Fishes and, together with her husband, is a member of the Archuleta County Genealogy Society.
Since they spread their time over so many community programs, I wanted to know how the Fords decide on where to focus their energy and efforts.
They said, “Of first importance to us both is our involvement to do God’s work through our churches. Our energy is focused on those things that need to be done. When a need arises, our hope and prayer is that we are strong enough to meet the need. We realize that in most cases we are a ‘band-aid’ for the situation, yet it is an important ‘band-aid.’ Once the bleeding is stopped and the situation stabilizes, then the real healing of the wound can begin.”