Member of the Month, 10 Year Anniversary Edition: Barb Barrar

Barb with Tom Hart at ONE’s 10 Year Anniversary event in Philadelphia yesterday.
She has been a member of ONE since Day 1. 

For ONE’s 10-year anniversary, we have a very special member of the month for May: Barb Barrar. Barb has been a member of ONE since the very beginning, since our official launch in Philadelphia in 2004, and has been an active member ever since. Ten years later, she joined us again at the site of our founding, where she reflected on ONE’s first decade and her outlook on the future of the fight against extreme poverty.

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Barb Barrar with Sen. Cory Booker in 2013

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A Jersey girl born and raised! I’m currently a full-time caregiver for my mother who is on home hospice with brain cancer. It’s not easy, but helping others is part of who I am. That’s one reason why I’m so involved with ONE. I’ve always been driven to do the “right thing” even if it’s not the “popular” thing. I am a strong advocate for justice and equality. I truly believe “Where you are born should not dictate whether you live or die.”

How long have you been involved with ONE? What prompted your involvement?

I’ve been involved with ONE since it was DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa). The idea of using my voice to make a difference for the world’s poor was intriguing and refreshing to me. I volunteered to sign up new members at the official launch of ONE in Philadelphia in May of 2004. Prior to that, I can clearly remember my first U2 concert in 2001, listening to Bono speak about millions of AIDS orphans in Africa. In that moment, my life changed. I went from being one of those people who said, “Take care of our own in America!” to acknowledging that we live in a global neighborhood and by helping others throughout the world, we are indeed helping our own.

What has been your favorite experience with ONE?

Oh gosh, there have been so many! Meeting a mother with HIV and her HIV-free daughter was amazing! Living proof that we can have an AIDS-FREE GENERATION! Engaging people from all walks of life is a recurring experience. From members of Congress, to moms, to rock stars, to students…all with a genuine desire to help the world’s poorest.

What is the most challenging thing about being an activist for ONE and our issues?

The most challenging thing is educating the American public on facts vs. what they think they know about extreme poverty and aid. It can be very frustrating convincing people that the programs we advocate for are funded by less than 1% of the U.S. budget, they are proven effective, sustainable, and transparent. Folks are often misinformed and think we are simply throwing money down a rat hole. I enjoy educating people on the facts and love when I see that light bulb of understanding go off in their heads!

What are your hopes for ONE’s next decade?

Honestly? My hope is that we no longer need organizations like ONE. My hope is for every child to have access to clean water, proper medical care, food/nutrition, education, and life opportunities so that they can not only survive, but thrive and become productive members of their communities and the world.

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Barb with Matt Lauer in 2010.

Who inspires you?

My friends will roll their eyes at this answer, but in all honestly, Bono inspires me like no other. His passion and knowledge are inspiring to millions around the world, including myself. I thank him for opening my mind to the world around me.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love spending time with friends and having intellectual and/or silly discussions and debates on all sorts of subjects. I’m also somewhat of a CNN junkie and I’ve been known to sit and watch C-SPAN for hours!

A big thanks to Barb for sharing her story with us, and for being one of our longest-serving ONE volunteers.

Want a chance to do some of the cool stuff that ONE volunteers like Barb are a part of?

Click here and we will get you connected with a local ONE organizer to get involved in our next decade!