Stuart Ford

How did you first become involved with the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center?

In January 2014, Mary Elizabeth Hand, NFCC’s Executive Director, approached Randy Helms and me to ask if we’d be interested in being the auctioneers for NFCC’s first gala at Houston Country Club.  As members of St. Luke’s Methodist Church, Randy and I were keenly aware of the mission and impact of NFCC on our community, and, coupled with both of our families having known the Finnegan family for over 50 years (wow how time flies), made our decision easy and we responded YES without hesitation.  Randy and I have been NFCC’s auctioneers each year since then.

Tell us a little about serving as one of our Tree of Life Gala auctioneers – what makes a successful auction? What makes you excited about auctioneering?

While way far from being professional auctioneers, Randy and I have learned what it takes to make an auction successful.  First, it’s ITEMS!  It takes an incredible amount of effort to assemble those auction items and the team at NFCC, the wonderful volunteer support and don’t forget the DONORS have made “ITEMS” happen each year.  Second, it’s LOVE IN THE ROOM!  When Randy and I were on that stage at the first NFCC Gala at Houston County Club, following an incredible, heart wrenching, inspirational talk by none other than Jim “Mattress Mac” McInvale, we had no idea how the auction would go.  Well, the “love in the room” was there, the “items” were there and so started a fantastic NFCC Gala saga.

What motivates you to continue to support NFCC and mental health counseling?

Selfishly, I like being a part of a winning team!  NFCC’s numbers speak for themselves, and, during COVID, the center had their best year ever using technology to serve our community when in-person counseling wasn’t an option.  On a personal level, while I was in college, I lost my best friend in an accident.  I remember sitting in a pew at St. Luke’s during his service in a daze, almost unable to function.  Counseling wasn’t an option for me back then and it took years to get my loss behind me.

Fast forward almost 30 years from that awful day, I found myself sitting in a pew at St. Luke’s, attending Nick Finnegan’s funeral service and what I saw and experienced was quite different from 30 years before.  Nick’s best friends led the service.  These “kids” spoke with confidence and humor and love and Nick’s service turned into truly, a celebration of his life!  I’m involved in several organizations where one of our biggest issues is “new blood”—who’s gonna take over after all us “old people” move on.  The great NEWS about NFCC is, several of those “kids” who spoke at Nick’s funeral are involved in leadership positions of NFCC, giving me the assurance that NFCC has got long future ahead!

What do you do to take care of your mental health?

It took a long time for the “stigma” of counseling to subside in me and I have been a proponent of counseling for years now.  I have always been a “worrier” and, recognizing that, I try to focus on what I can positively change or influence and forgetting the rest!  I use Matthew 6:34 when I get off-track:  “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself….”