History

FFNC History

FRIENDSHIP FORCE EARLY ACTIVITY IN COLORADO 

In 1979, a small group of individuals interested in the concept of Friendship Force began meeting in the office of Governor Dick Lamm.  This group came together following the national challenge given to state governors by President Jimmy Carter at a White House event in 1977.  Assisted by the newly formed Friendship Force Club in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the working group founded the Rocky Mountain Friendship Force in August of 1981.

In 1982 the new Colorado-based club hosted its first exchange of Ambassadors from Berlin, West Germany, and, in that same year, renamed the club the Friendship Force of Colorado.   In successive years, as Northern Colorado, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and still later Golden and Estes Park, chartered their own clubs, the original club in Denver was renamed again, to the Friendship Force of Greater Denver.  The Denver club still includes Boulder, which does not yet have an independent charter.

NORTHERN COLORADO  

Bert & Ann Nelson and Joe & Jean Weitz, from Fort Collins, had been active in the new Denver club.  As early as 1983 there were communiqués with Atlanta about the possibility of establishing a separate club in Northern Colorado.   By the summer of 1984, 12 members, including those mentioned above plus Jane Davis, Bob & June Geller, Betty Govan, Audrey & Richard Putney, Bill & Johnalou Rudolph, from Northern Colorado were members of The Friendship Force of Colorado.  In November, Friendship Force-South held its first regular meeting in Colorado Springs.  And on December 2, the first meeting of Friendship Force-North was held at the Village Inn in Fort Collins.    A second meeting, scheduled in Timnath in early February 1985, was cancelled because of heavy snow.

Throughout the remainder of 1985, Northern Colorado representation in Friendship Force of Colorado continued to grow.  That year three Northern Colorado members:  Bert and Ann Nelson and Tica Blackler, followed the steps of Joe Weitz and Betty Govan, as officers in the Denver-based club.

 NORTH COLORADO CLUB CHARTERED

On March 1, 1986 a charter was granted for the separate Friendship Force of Northern Colorado to include Estes Park, Fort Collins, Greeley,  Longmont, Loveland, and surrounding towns.  The newly formed club had more han 65 members.  Bert and Ann Nelson led the new club during its formative years and in 1989 Gloria Hallock of Loveland became the club's first non-founding President.

THE EARLY YEARS 1983-1993

During the first 7 years, Northern Colorado hosted Ambassadors from West Germany, Korea, Israel, England, the Soviet Union, Columbia, New Zealand and Australia.  The club traveled as Ambassadors to Germany (1989), England (1991), Austria and Moscow (1992) and St. Petersburg (1993).  Individual club members represented the club on exchanges sponsored by other clubs and were active in hosting on behalf of the Denver, Grand Junction and Cheyenne clubs.   The Northern Colorado club was also involved as Ambassadors for a special 150-person exchange from Colorado to the Soviet Union in 1990.   That exchange was co-sponsored by KUSA, Channel 9, in Denver.  (The station produced a one-hour television documentary of the experience.)  

Northern Colorado has been represented at annual international conferences since its inception.  In 1991, we served as host club for our first Rocky Mountain Regional Conference.   In 1994, we assisted with staffing for the International Conference held in Denver and provided post-conference hosting to delegates from the Orient and from Africa.

MID 1990’s-2000

   In these years our club:  

  • Supported a spin-off of members to form the Rocky Mountain Club in Estes Park (1996)
  • Continued active hosting and ambassadorial schedules, including first time hosting exchanges for Toluca, Mexico and Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Established a Summer Picnic tradition with the Cheyenne and Estes Park clubs
  • Had members lead numerous All-USA Exchanges
  • Encouraged charter member Cinda Clark in her 10-year tenure as FFI Field Representative for the Mountain States Region
  • Assisted Greater Denver in hosting the FF International Conference (1994)
  • Participated from 1996 onward in Friendship Force Interclub Visitations within the USA

THE CURRENT DECADE 2000-2010

Since 2000 our club has continued the traditions of active hosting and ambassadorial events; of lively and informative monthly international programs; and support for FFI objectives. Some specific activities  of FFNC in recent years follow:

  • Weathered the 2001 terrorist attacks and SARS scare by assisting    Atlanta with a special financial contribution.
  • Served as a pioneer host club in the Open World program for emerging leaders from the former Soviet Union.
  • Named Saratov, Russia, a Sister Club (2003).
  • Established a discrete club website and began electronic publication of our monthly newsletter, The Friendship Flyer in 2003-2004.
  • Received 2005 international award recognition for our "Excellence In Programs to attract new and diverse members, retain current members, motivate members and non-members to serve as Ambassadors and Hosts, expand awareness of cross-cultural issues and achieve the mission of FFI".  Specific accomplishments cited included development of our Photo Membership Directory; conducting an aggressive fundraising campaign to support the Legacy Campaign; hosting 6 successful Open World sessions in 5 years; and undertaking a variety of initiatives to promote cultural understanding in the community and within international exchanges.
  • Celebrated the 30th Anniversary of FF with the first International Friendship Day linked to other clubs via internet.
  • Raised $5,000 for FFI Legacy Fund to expand FF  worldwide.
  • Conducted a comprehensive survey of club members and then implemented changes to reflect evolving membership needs and interests.
  • Participated with a FF booth in Loveland’s Peace in The Park event
  • Held our first Information Night Social for prospective members.
  •  Instituted a Buddy/Mentor Program to link each new member with an experienced club member.
  •  Hosted a successful Regional Conference for 110 delegates from 7 FF clubs representing 4 Rocky Mountain states.
  •  Supported Betty Jean DeMersseman's appointment as Rocky Mountain Regional Representative.
  •  Sponsored our first International Festival in celebration of our first 25 Years - 1986-2011

In our 25 years, we have met in Greeley, Fort Collins, Windsor and now Loveland for monthly meetings.  Our meetings are held on the second Friday of each month except July, August and December. 

Each August we convene with Rocky Mountain FF and with Cheyenne FF for a three-club summer celebration. In December we traditionally celebrate the Holidays with a specially planned party.    

In 2011, during our silver anniversary year, we looked back on the multitude of friendships made, the fascinating cultures explored and shared, and the expansive education we have gained through hosting and being hosted.    What gifts these associations have given to us!    

In our first quarter century, Friendship Force of Northern Colorado members are pleased to have hosted 41 exchanges from 24 countries.   In addition, we have sent citizen Ambassadors to 43 clubs in 22 different countries.   Our cultural exchanges represent ties and friendships with citizens of 38 different nations.   These connections have truly enriched our lives.   To all, we say Thank You.