Sunday, November 4, 2007

City Federation honors the woman who takes care of club business

Telegram Staff Writer

She's the voice on the phone when you call, and she's the face you see when you go inside.
Her name is Nayeola Ford - the manager of the City Federation Clubhouse at 219 King Circle in Temple.
October marked her 20th anniversary. The Federation presented her with a plaque and bouquet of red roses to thank her for her two decades of service during a special program on Oct. 9.
Her job hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday - a schedule that fits her title of general manager.
But her tasks and workplace are anything but common. The only City Federation employee, Ms. Ford coordinates the comings and goings of the hundreds of women who participate in the Federation's 16 clubs.
'Somebody's always dropping this off or picking that up,' Ms. Ford said. 'Somebody's got to know where everything is at.'
She's key keeper to the clubhouse that hosts not only the Federation's many affairs but also the dozens of wedding and anniversary parties that take place there.
'I come in and unlock everything,' Ms. Ford said. 'I stay and watch over everything.'
Not a person who likes to draw attention to herself, the soft-spoken Ms. Ford said she much prefers man her post from the shadowed hall that adjoins the clubhouse's banquet room.
'I like to stand in the back and watch everybody,' Ms. Ford said. 'At the parties, I like to see everybody dressed up. And when the clubs have their meetings, I often listen in - and then go home and try what they were talking about.'
Most of those activities, she said, are crafts or gardening techniques - two hobbies that fill up her free time.
A sewing machine, in fact, sits to the right of her desk in her office. Once the phone stops ringing and the perpetual flow of visitors comes to an end, she said she puts her feet up for a while - and picks up her needle and thread. Quilt-tops are her favorite project.
It's not an office-like room, though.
It's a bedroom inside the clubhouse that has a curtained window, a copier, desk and filing cabinet. The supplies aren't highlighters and tape; they're teddy bears for the Federation's upcoming Christmas project, flowers and shovels for the gardening club and a closet of miscellaneous items (like boxes, bows, bowls and make-up) - all ready for whatever need that may arise.
Being an organization's sole employee sounds like a lonely endeavor, but Ms. Ford said it's not.
'Most of the time, I'm always seeing people,' she said. 'When I do get to feeling lonely, I go downtown for a while to get my fill of noise and company.'
The months between May and September are the most quiet, she said, because that's when the City Federation breaks for summer.
'But by May, I generally am ready for it,' Ms. Ford said, grinning. 'I'm on my 21st president now. Things get a little crazy when everything starts up again in the fall. They all have their own way of doing things.'
But Ms. Ford keeps it all in track, said Ouida Dulany, City Federation president.
'We all love her,' Ms. Dulany said.
Ilene Miller can't imagine the City Federation without her. Mrs. Miller is a City Federation mainstay who coordinates several of the organization's activities and participates in twice as many.
'Everybody holds Nayeola in high regard. She helps all of us with everything,' Mrs. Miller said. 'She knows where things are. That in itself is quite a feat for an organization as big as ours.'
Ms. Ford's calm and warm personality is a characteristic that many Federation members said they find not only valuable but also precious.
'She's such a quiet presence, always unruffled, calm and cool,' Mrs. Miller said. 'She's a hard worker who pitches in whenever she can. She is part of our team.'
To Vicky Bawcom, another active City Federation member, Ms. Ford is a dear friend.
'She's such a very personal woman, certainly not a woman who puts herself first,' Ms. Bawcom said. 'She's about helping others. I've never heard her complain with the many things she puts up with.'

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