After retiring from education, Jackie and Jim Barker wanted to give back to their community. In 2008, they began The Garden House Foundation as a means of offering support to families and animals in need in the Cowichan Valley, along with promoting childhood literacy and recycling. These are broad goals, making their success all the more inspiring.
“The best thing we ever did was form our fund under the umbrella of the Victoria Foundation. It has relieved us of the legal costs and provided investment services and advice when we have asked,” says Jackie
Through the Victoria Foundation, the Barkers have met other fund donors.
“This has made us feel like we are part of a ‘family’ of donors and that we belong to a caring group,” Jackie added.
Each October, The Garden House Foundation hosts a charity book sale to raise funds.
“Tens of thousands of books have been donated over the past eight years. Community involvement has been tremendous. One of the most rewarding moments is the first 10 to 15 minutes of the sale when the doors open and hundreds of people pour into the hall,” says Jim. “We will most likely hit $100,000 in our fund this year. We had originally hoped to make $25,000 in five years.”
With the money raised, the Barkers are able to fund the Cowichan Family Life Association, Cowichan Women Against Violence and the Duncan and District SPCA.
“We have chosen to let them direct the funds into areas that are in most need of support,” says Jackie.
The Barkers continue to find unique opportunities to fundraise and deepen their own community involvement. They worked with the South Cowichan Seniors’ lunch program, loaning their own personal china and raising a hard earned $1,000 for the foundation.
“Over the past 20 years we have also allowed Cowichan Family Life to put us on their garden tour and so we have helped them to raise thousands of dollars,” explains Jackie. “We want to continue to do what we are doing, to be involved and contribute so that our lives remain purposeful.”
To learn more about The Garden Foundation, visit gardenhousefoundation.wordpress.com.