A Personal Connection
Written by Betsy Station
Many Solidarity Bridge supporters are drawn to our work because they want to bring surgery and other health care to those who need it most. And some, like David and Elizabeth “Tibby” Ford, have personal connections to Bolivia that have grown stronger with their involvement.
The Fords, who live in Washington, DC, first learned about Solidarity Bridge from longtime missioner Dr. Gay Garrett, who is also Tibby’s doctor. “When I first met Gay, we started talking about Bolivia and she told me about her activities with Solidarity Bridge. I was very impressed,” says Tibby, who grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, raised by an American mother and Chilean father.
After making their first gift to Solidarity Bridge, the Fords traveled to Bolivia in 2016 and observed the work of our mission teams in Cochabamba, Tiquipaya, and Santa Cruz. They visited with patients at Viedma Hospital and Tibby helped with translation. “It was a wonderful experience,” she says, “and an eye opener for me.”
The couple is active in the Washington, DC community. Now retired, Tibby worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and other bank regulatory agencies for nearly four decades. David, a real estate investor, serves on the Washington, DC regional board of Teach for America and cofounded a local chapter of Minds Matter, a nonprofit that prepares high school youth for college success.
Not surprisingly, the Fords are thoughtful about their philanthropic investments. “Our principal contributions are only to organizations we have direct knowledge about,” says David. Reflecting on Solidarity Bridge’s approach to medical mission work, he says, “They don’t just drop in, do the work, and disappear.”
“Solidarity Bridge is completely committed to the partnerships they have with Bolivian doctors and hospitals and with Puente de Solidaridad,” adds Tibby.
In April, Tibby and David joined hundreds of supporters at Fiesta, our annual fundraiser in Chicago. They celebrated Dr. Gay Garrett as she received Solidarity Bridge’s highest honor, the Solidarity Award, for her work with our patients and medical partners in Bolivia. In July, they were also on hand with Dr. Garrett and her husband, Dr. Mark Harris, for a video screening of our new documentary in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Fords have included Solidarity Bridge in their estate plans, calling it one of their highest charitable priorities. “Solidarity Bridge has changed health care in some very impoverished parts of Bolivia,” says David, “and that will have a lasting impact.”
US based donors and supporters are a key part of our Solidarity Bridge community. You can help us to grow our mission. If you are interested in hosting a screening of our newest documentary film, or to learn more about making a planned gift, contact Rachel McDonnell.
Betsy Station is a communications volunteer with Solidarity Bridge.