Longtime volunteer inspirational columnist honoured with Penticton Unsung Citizen Award

Honoured for inspiring

A Penticton man known for his inspirational newspaper columns and booklets highlighting the good things in life has been recognized by the Penticton Sunrise Rotary Club with the Unsung Citizen of Penticton Award.

The award highlights residents who have "quietly undertaken altruistic deeds that serve to enrich our social tapestry and create a more vibrant, equitable and inclusive community."

This week, Harvie Barker was given the honour. For 18 years since he retired to Penticton in 2003, he has written inspirational messages in his "A Good Word in Season" column with the Penticton Herald newspaper.

As the years passed and the columns accumulated, he soon began bundling the articles in groups of 40 and publishing them as soft-cover booklets, with help from local sponsors including the newspaper to defray publication costs.

To date, nine booklets have been printed, 400 of the first and 300 of each of the subsequent eight. They sell for $10 each with all proceeds divided equally between Pathways Addictions Resource Centre and the Be an Angel Foundation.

His books have raised $28,000 so far.

Steve King, clinical counsellor with Pathways, praised Barker's humility and huge heart.

"Mr. Barker has spent countless hours in shopping malls promoting his heartwarming and motivational books about the human condition with no personal reward except knowing others will benefit from their thought-provoking and informative content," King said.

And Barker's contributions to the community extend beyond sharing his stories. He sang in the Naramata Community Choir, regularly attends Penticton Vees games as a life-long sports enthusiast and operates an outreach group through Penticton United Church called "Weavers," devoted to visiting those who are infirmed, troubled or lonely in the community.

“Harvie’s journalistic reflections are firmly rooted in his life-long concerns for social justice, whether it be equality for gay and lesbian persons, those living with an addiction, or the hungry and homeless of the community. Those of us who have come to know him are the richer," said fellow United Church member Laura Turnbull of her friend.

The Unsung Citizen Award automatically makes Barker a Paul Harris Fellow, named after the founder of the Rotary movement and recognized by the Rotary Foundation as a global organization. That recognition requires the Rotary Club $1,000 in the name of the recipient to the Rotary Foundation in support of humanitarian and educational projects around the world.

Barker joins notable names like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and Jonas Salk as recipients of the Paul Harris Fellow honour.

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