Melody Villard receives Rotary humanitarian award, discusses candidacy for Moffat County commission
With deep roots in Moffat County, Melody Villard has lent her time and effort to too many organizations to remember, and she recently made the decision to serve the area in a new way.
Villard was the recipient of the 2019 Bill and Nancy Muldoon Humanitarian Award from Craig Rotary Club during the service organization’s yearly fundraiser gala Diamonds and Spurs.
Rotarian Randy Looper introduced the award by saying a few words about its namesake, with the Muldoons the source of many of the Craig Rotary group’s signature efforts.
Among those was Diamonds and Spurs itself, which started in 1997 with the help of the couple, who, among other projects, also began the club’s Book Buddies program that still exists as members work with area second-graders in literacy.
The two also found international projects for the local chapter to take on, which Looper noted was exactly what the group strives to do in making a difference at multiple levels.
“Rotary’s motto is ‘service above self,'” he said. “Bill and Nancy Muldoon lived ‘service above self.'”
John Allen — who won the Humanitarian Award along with wife Mary Lou a year ago — introduced Villard and noted her many works that led to him nominating her for the honor.
“She wears many hats, has worked with a multitude of city and county officials, event promoters, entertainers and fellow volunteers,” Allen said. “She always has the good of the community in her heart.”
Among a plethora of both hands-on and supervisory roles in Moffat County events and groups — Luttrell Barn Cultural Center, Moffat County United Way, and Museum of Northwest Colorado, to name a few — Villard also has her hands full as a sheep rancher alongside husband Albert, who was in attendance as she accepted the award as well as their son Kelton and daughters Rylee, Chloe and Tess.
Villard jokingly referred to her family as her “volun-tolds” for their being willingly recruited into many of her projects.
“I couldn’t do this by myself,” she said to the crowd, adding that many area volunteers and businesses have lent her support over the years.
Villard said she was both surprised and humbled to learn earlier this month that Rotary would be acknowledging her in such a way.
“There’s a lot of people in our community who do a good job, but it’s an honor to be recognized,” she said.
Villard said she particularly takes pride in projects that can lead to financial boosts for the area, such as tourist attractions like Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, Grand Old West Days, and Moffat County Balloon Festival, as well as the Ride and Tie Rodeo that she hopes to revive this summer.
Though she did not bring it up as part of her acceptance speech, Villard also recently took another big step in serving the area.
On Jan. 23, she posted a candidate affidavit announcing her intention to run for the Board of County Commissioners’ District 2 in the upcoming election.
“I’ve been asked to do it for several years and a lot of people approached me and thought that I would make a good candidate. I had declined, sometimes not even politely,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve been to the meetings, I’ve been vocal, and now I think it’s time for me to put my time in with a different way.”
More recent developments for Moffat County were what motivated her to step into the political arena, she said.
“We’re facing some really tough times as a community, and we need someone who have strong leadership skills who are willing to face tough decisions and who are willing to have some people upset with them facing those tough decisions,” she said. “When everybody’s talking about the things that can go wrong, we need people to be looking for what we can do that’s right.
I think that if we want to stay positive in our community and keep our community strong and be willing to stay here, we need to roll up our sleeves to work to make it happen.”
As she prepares to campaign, Villard said she hopes to get a sense of what works and doesn’t work in Moffat County from a governmental standpoint, bolstering its strong points and improving areas that are struggling.
“I feel like if I’m going to stick around here, I might as well make it better,” she said.