Thank You, Doug Ford!

November 17th, 2019

We’d like to give a hearty salute to Doug Ford, who has retired from Abode Services’ Board of Directors after serving for many years. Doug has served a number of roles during his long Abode tenure, using his expertise and passion for fighting poverty to help Abode reach its goals and face major challenges posed by the Bay Area’s housing crisis.

For this, we thank Doug very much. As part of our appreciation, we’re going to name our Irvington Senior Project in Fremont after him.

Doug’s dedication to helping the less fortunate began in childhood, as he watched his father’s example of kindness and compassion.

“Our family’s values were focused on helping poor people and fighting for social justice and against racial discrimination,” he said. “It’s just part of my makeup to always be concerned about people who are disadvantaged.”

Doug spent most of his youth in Texas, where he earned college degrees from Texas Tech and Texas Christian University. He moved to the Bay Area and served as a minister at First Christian Church in San Jose in the early 1970s.

At that time, state-run mental health hospitals released about 3,000 people with major mental and psychiatric issues into the streets. Alarmed at seeing so many people experience homelessness, Doug partnered with other South Bay churches to try to help people in need of a home.

Doug changed jobs, but he continued fighting poverty. He worked in a Department of Labor program that provided job training and community services block grants. Doug eventually became the director of the program, which served thousands of people at several offices in Alameda County. (The ongoing program is now known as Eden I&R, Inc.)

“It was very challenging but rewarding to provide important services for the unemployed and people with low incomes,” Doug said.

Over the years, Doug transitioned into a career as a consultant for nonprofit organizations, guiding them to deal with what can be a complicated maze of bureaucracy, finance, and politics.

Doug served on regional committees such as Fremont’s Human Relations Commission and the Alameda County Associated Community Action Board. That’s where he met Louis Chicoine, Abode’s chief executive officer, who also serves on a number of local boards and committees for anti-poverty organizations. Doug joined Abode’s board and he and Louis together founded Allied Housing, the area’s first anti-poverty housing developer. Years later, Allied Housing continues to be a key part of Abode’s work in rehousing formerly homeless people.

Over the years, Doug helped fill Abode’s various needs. When Louis took a brief sabbatical, Doug served as the organization’s interim leader. When Louis returned, Abode’s board of directors elected Doug as board president. He served on the board until he reached the maximum number of terms.

Now that he is leaving Abode, Doug said he looks forward to traveling more and performing volunteer work to continue helping the community.

Rest assured, however, Doug says he’ll always stay focused on advocating for homeless and low-income people, especially as the region grapples with a serious housing crisis.

“One thing that will always affect people’s lives is having a stable home, everything else comes after that,” he said. “Keeping employment, addressing mental health issues, etc. — it all comes from feeling safe at home. Without it, people can get lost at sea.”

We congratulate Doug on his many contributions to Abode Services. As he looks back on his time with us, Doug said he is proud of what the organization has been able to accomplish.

“There are people’s lives who will be forever changed because of Abode and I feel good about being a part of that,” he said.

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