Our good friend Shirley Barish died last month. It is a big loss. Shirley, who went as Mom or Ma Barish, was an ultimate volunteer—a volunteer who was so good that she became a professional. She had a path that led from being a volunteer youth group advisor, to running events for the Houston community, to founding CAJE, to writing a national newsletter for small schools—and more. She was the ultimate problem solver. Here is my personal favorite story about Shirley Barish.
Once I spent Thanksgiving with Shirley, Marvin, and the family. Shirley ordered some help to serve the dinner and do the dishes. Rather than waiters or other kitchen help, two rental janitors showed up in grew uniforms with their name stitched on the pocket. Someone else might have panicked and sent the janitors away. Shirley huddled with them, explained what she wanted, and had the guys with the embroidered names on their grey work shirts serve the soup and the rest of the meal.
Shirley was a voice we will miss. She was a leader who could work with whatever she had available. We need to learn from that example.