Plans to travel, take spiritual pilgrimages –
By Patricia Beech –
When Bob Boldman accepted the job of overseeing the Adams County Homeless Shelter in July 2000, he was told it would be a temporary position.
“I agreed to do it until they found someone,” says Boldman. “Here it is, 17 years later, and they still haven’t found my replacement.”
Boldman will retire from his “temporary” position on Aug. 15 after 17 years of devoted service to the homeless of Adams County.
“Sometimes I wonder what I did 17 years go,” he says. “It’s been such a blessing to me to be involved in helping people.”
He says he plans to spend his retirement years traveling and going on spiritual pilgrimages.
Bob, who is originally from Portsmouth, Ohio came to Adams County as a representative for the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH).
As coordinator over the agency’s Guardianship Program, he was recruiting volunteers to become guardians for indigent folks in group homes and nursing homes around the county.
“I had no idea where to start when I arrived here, my boss gave me no help whatsoever, he told me, ‘Just go over and start it, I can’t tell you how, you figure it out’.”
His first stop was at the Catholic Church on Mulberry Street in West Union. When Father David Glockner answered the door, Boldman, who knew no one in the county, was surprised to find himself staring at a familiar face. The two men were both born and raised in the same parish in Portsmouth.
“We just stood there looking at one another for a minute,” Boldman says. “He was a little older than me by about 10 years, but I recognized him.”
His second stop was the county courthouse where he met with the late Judge Elmer Spencer who he says “was all for the idea”.
Suddenly, the daunting task of accomplishing his assignment in an unfamiliar county had become a little less tenuous.
Boldman, who retired from the military after 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force Reserves, says his devotion for helping the homeless sprang from his travels during his military service.
“While I was in the service I traveled to third world countries, and as I got older I became a little wiser about the ways of the world, I became more religious,” he says. “Whatever country I was in I would travel and try to take in the local culture. I saw a lot of poverty, especially when they sent me to the Caribbean and Central America.”
The plight of impoverished people in the countries he visited awakened a need in him to help others.
“I told Father Dave when I retired I wouldn’t mind being a lay missionary because I was so motivated by the poverty I saw in Central America, and he said said ‘Bob, there’s people that need help right here’. He took me on a tour of Adams County to some pretty poverty stricken areas, and he said you can do good right here in this county.”
Glockner introduced him to the Director of the Homeless Shelter, which at that time was located in Blue Creek.
“When I got involved with the shelter, the Director asked where my office was, and I said I have none, I work out of my car, so she set me up a desk, and that’s how my affiliation with the homeless shelter came to be – her letting me use a desk.”
In January 2000, the state of Ohio announced they were going to close the Receiving Hospital in Portsmouth, and Boldman’s job with the ODNH came to an end.
“They offered me an early retirement if I wanted it, but at that point I was still young enough that I didn’t want to stop working, or I could have gone to another facility, but I didn’t want to pull up stakes, my home was in Portsmouth,” he says. “I was kind of elated at first that I was going to be retired, and I thought I’d just enjoy it for awhile.”
In April, 2000 he was asked to serve on the Homeless Shelter’s Board of Directors.
“I went to one board meeting and they asked me to leave the room while they put it to a vote,” he says. “When I came back into the room I was a board member, but they wanted to know if I would also consider being Director of the shelter. I’d just retired and didn’t know if I wanted to go back to work yet, but they said it would be temporary, so I agreed, and I don’t regret one day of it, not one day.”