October 12, 2004
For Debbie Forrest of Mesa, community service, strong religious beliefs and a close relationship with her family and seven children have always been a major part of her life.
When her husband of 23 years died instantly in a car accident in 2000, those aspects of her life became even more important.
"You just go on and live life to the fullest," said Forrest, 49. "I had to accept and know I could get through it."
The "Super Mom" has volunteered her time and resources to teach children and build homes in Honduras and Mexico. She has been involved with the Boy Scouts of America for almost 15 years. She has raised thousands of dollars for the community.
And most recently, she started a community committee to get residents to give tax credit donations for extracurricular activities to Mesa schools.
Last month, she received the Embrace Life Award in New York along with four other women who have inspired and persevered after the deaths of their spouses. The award is given by State Farm Life Insurance Company.
She is donating the $5,000 she received to Brigham Young University in Utah to begin a scholarship in her husband’s name. The scholarship will be given to a student in a single-parent family, Forrest said.
In July, she received the 2004 National Parent of the Year award from the National Parents Day Council, after being named Arizona’s Parent of the Year. It is the first time the national award has been given to a single parent.
Sherrie Nattrass of Mesa nominated Forrest for National Parent of the Year
and the Embrace Life Award.
"What I found in watching Debbie is that she responds to her challenges by bringing life and beauty to others," said Nattrass, a freelance writer and public relations director for the Center for Empowerment. "I’ve never met anyone who is so consistently selfless."
By serving others, Forrest is helping to repay the community for the kindness, help and inspiration she received after her husband, Bill, was taken from her life, the lives of their seven children and the members he served as a bishop at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
She heads a family of former and current student body presidents, Eagle Scouts, athletes, Brigham Young University students and graduates, piano players and community servers.
The Forrest family moved to Mesa 13 years ago after researching schools and the city to find the perfect place to raise a family. The family had lived in their new home in Centre Court for only six months when Bill Forrest was involved in his fatal car accident less than a mile away from home.