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Forrest Whitman - Unofficial Goodwill Ambassador

Written by Luz Stella Diaz 

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Longtime resident of Salida, Forrest Whitman, is an unofficial goodwill ambassador.  A familiar figure in downtown, greeting everyone in English or Spanish, and knowing almost everything that is happening.  

 

His story begins in the Midwest. Born and raised in Chicago, he “grew up with a rail yard behind his house”. Watching the trains led to a long-term love of the rails.  

 

This love helped him during his early adult years. He attended college in Chicago, and as he says, “he was hanging out at universities for 8 years” trying to get different degrees (Philosophy was his major), making some money working on the railroads while supporting his family.  

 

He ended up moving to Colorado where he started to write, helped people less fortunate, became interested in politics, worked as county commissioner in another county, learned Spanish, and got involved with the Democratic Party because “He was born a Democrat”.   Forrest likes to write. “Writing is fun and I like to write important stuff”. Colorado Central Magazine and local newspapers have been recipients of his railroad and life knowledge.  

 

As part of his passion for helping people, Forrest got involved with a Colorado church as an employee and as a member. He is no longer with the church but says “He liked it and still likes the church. It is a peace church, working towards peaceful solutions to conflicts”.  

 

Forrest and the church helped refugees, asylum seekers, and people looking for sanctuary. This “life passion” took place in the USA but also took him to several countries in Central America where one of the “dirty wars” was raging. It was a challenging time and he found himself in opposition to various law enforcement agencies.    

“That sounds over the top heroic. I don’t think anybody felt heroic, we were just helping out”.

 

He is not as active as he used to be, due to health issues, but he still writes, is married to his wonderful wife Frances, volunteers, keeps in touch with his family, has a radio show, reads in English and Spanish, gets his daily morning coffee at his favorite coffee shop and adores the mountains surrounding beautiful Salida.

 

In addition, Forrest continues to be part of many different organizations such as those with interest in reform to the prison system, in alternatives to justice and to traditional punishment, in sanctuary movements, and in assistance to refugees.  

 

Although he is aware of the challenges of a tourist town such as housing and stable jobs, he is proud of his Salida community.  Forrest believes that “in Salida, we open our hearts to different groups”.

Spanish translation coming soon.