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Tribute to Ida Barnack

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We had to say goodbye to Ida Barnack in December. For those of us who have been part of St. Vincent de Paul over the last three decades, it is hard to imagine our family without Ida. She was the soul of the Thrift Store and the director of its volunteers. She was one of the longest serving members of our Board of Directors, most recently serving as Vice President. She was the organizational force behind our annual Walk For the Poor. It was only with her passing that even her children began to fully realize the depth of her service to Juneau. Below are a few words from those who had the blessing of knowing her.

“I’ll be honest and tell you that her children didn’t realize the full extent of her volunteer work. We were shocked to find a plaque where she was honored with ‘Volunteer of the Decade.’ That seemed like a significant amount of volunteering on her part, but she never mentioned it to any of us. She was hard-working and humble…well a little bossy too!  =) We all miss her tremendously.”

“She held her faith without compromise or question. She understood that we are instructed to ‘welcome the stranger’; she never asked to see their green card. She was as fearless as a mama bear in her defense of the helpless.”

“I’m one of so many who have been helped by Ida. I met Ida when I started an adult education center in Smith Hall at St. Vincent de Paul in 2000. Part of my time was spent helping people from other countries learn English. I’d have a class of six or so who were advancing nicely, then someone new showed up who couldn’t answer when I’d ask them their name.  Those new students became Ida’s.  She’d take them upstairs and work one on one with them making them feel safe and confident. The upstairs student soon became a group. As far as I know, for the next fifteen years, Ida has worked with immigrants helping them get along in our community on an almost daily basis.  When the St. Vincent Adult Education Center closed, she came downtown to the SERRC adult education center.  When a family center opened in Gruening Park, she went there too. If there weren’t adults to help, Ida helped with the kids.  Soon she became a regular at the after school club. Thank you, Ida, so much for all that you’ve done to help us and our community.  We will miss you.”

“She was one of those who live the faith.  They take all the bad stuff about the church with a grain of salt and consider it merely noise.  It has little to do with their faith formation which transcends human fallibility.  Wish I was that confident in my faith and church”.

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