BEDFORD, OH – The Bedford City School District paid tribute to two passionate parent volunteers and community activists at the January 10 meeting of the Bedford Board of Education, with a resolution recognizing their extensive services to the District.
Dr. Rev. Doug and Debbie Boquist moved to Bedford nearly seven years ago. “Pastor Doug,” as he is known to many, took the position as lead pastor at the Bedford Church of the Nazarene. His wife, Debbie, served as the church’s children’s pastor. They enrolled their two school-aged sons (another son and a daughter had already graduated) into the Bedford Schools. Since coming to Bedford, the couple has planted a “Giving Tree” in the community; and the school district was fortunate to be a major branch of that tree. The Boquist family is leaving Bedford and moving to Lima, Ohio, where Dr. Boquist has accepted a new position as lead pastor of the Lima Community Church of the Nazarene.
The partnership between the Boquists and the schools began more than five years ago, when the Bedford Church of The Nazarene decided to hold a “Back to School Bash” in August for Central Primary School families. The district had recently implemented a new dress code, and the church collected dress-code-compliant clothes and distributed them free of charge to families who attended. The event expanded over the years and now includes food, entertainment, and free school clothing, as well as school supplies.
The first seed of the Giving Tree was planted with that event, and it has grown steadily since. A few years ago, Pastor Doug gathered a group of six of his fellow local pastors, who began to meet every Friday morning at Bedford City Hall, by invitation of the mayor, to pray. At these prayer sessions, the pastors brainstormed ideas to help the youngsters of the district. Church and community members began to take a more active role in the schools. Here are just a few examples of programs, all non-faith based, initiated by Doug and Debbie Boquist, that have been implemented in the Bedford Schools:
•An intervention program for at-risk young men at Heskett Middle School, called UbUr3 (You Be Yourself—focusing on Respect, Responsibility and Right Relationships).
•A character development program with the Bedford High School football team and more recently, the basketball team.
•The Kids Hope program at Central Primary School.
•The Homework Club at Columbus Intermediate School.
•A collaborative effort between the school district, city hall, the business community and 15 churches to improve the homes of more than 40 elderly residents.
•The creation of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, called The Mentoring Network, to raise funds and provide mentors to students. Through this organization, funds were raised to hire a full-time Campus Life instructor to teach non-faith based character classes at the high school and middle school.
Pastor Doug addressed the Board at the January 10 meeting, and reassured the district and the many guests in attendance that evening, that all of these programs will remain active and continue to grow. He introduced the team of volunteers who will now lead each program. The Boquists will tell you that their “incarnational ministry” guided them to be leaders in the community. And the leadership they have brought to the Bedford Schools has been transformational for many students; proving yet again, that indeed it does take a village to raise a child.