2015 Deborah Barrell

Community Volunteer Awards
2015 Honoree
Deborah Barrell
Deborah Barrell

Distinguished Service to Youth

Deborah Barrell

One thing we believe in around here is that kids matter. Everybody's kids! Kids need opportunities to learn, grow and lead. They need chances to volunteer, to engage in the arts, play sports and explore future careers - to experience the world and learn the skills needed to be 21st century citizens. But we all know, it doesn't just happen. It takes adults who really care about them. They are out there, although sometimes it feels like these super heroes are in short supply. Thank goodness there are people like Deborah Barrell
Deborah was born in San Jose and grew up in Palo Alto, a great student who went on to earn a degree in economics from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, followed by an MBA from the University of Chicago. Her career at Bank of America began in Rancho Cordova in 1983 as a trainee and has been stellar. Today she works in internal loan quality control, reporting to the Board of Directors of the Bank. That's a big deal.

Bank of America brought Deborah to Rancho Cordova and back again. With husband Larry, they raised daughter Melody to be valedictorian of her Cordova High School graduating class. But that didn't happen by accident either.

Deborah shared her amazing financial skills and set to work in improving the normal childhood activities of her daughter. Those who watched her in action at Peter J. Shields Elementary School PTA found her work transformational. 

Deborah also brought her practiced eye to the books at Cordova Girls Softball... and incredible Mom power, too. When the annual Stars of Cordova softball tournament rolled around, Deborah headed into the kitchen to bake 60 dozen star-shaped cookies - a welcome and good luck gift to all tournament teams that has become a Rancho Cordova tradition, because Deborah still does it, year after year. League president Rod Borba said that Deborah is the finest parent with whom he has ever worked.

When Melody became the much admired Drum Major of the Cordova High Marching Band, mom Deborah was there to help. But while Melody moved on to college, Deborah continued her work, up to her elbows in a $60,000 fundraising effort to purchase new band and orchestra uniforms for high school musicians, to be debuted when Cordova High's new Performing Arts Center opens later this year. Yes, that's Deborah cooking up a storm with the Band Boosters at the California Capital Airshow every year... still.

Deborah's special passion is Family Promise of Sacramento. Family Promise is a program that helps homeless families achieve self-sufficiency and regain a home for themselves and their children by utilizing an interfaith hospitality network of diverse faith communities throughout Sacramento. Connected to Family Promise by her own commitment to the United Methodist Church of Rancho Cordova, Deborah is a longtime member of the board of this interfaith effort.

Sheryl Longsworth, a champion of youth herself, said this about Deborah:
"While her service to youth via PTA and Music Boosters started while her daughter was in school, her continued dedication to serving youth years after her daughter graduated is truly remarkable and is well-deserving of this award!"

Husband Larry put it this way:
"Deborah believes that you should live in the community you work in. Instead of wasting time on a commute, a parent should spend that time with their kid -- and all the other children that are part of their child's world."

And daughter Melody:
"Growing up, there was never a band performance, softball game, play or any activity in my life that my mom missed. She has been to every event, big or small, no matter what. 

"She would, in a heartbeat, drop everything if someone she loved was in need. Once, when I had forgotten to send in a college application to UCLA by the due date, she drove, all night, to LA to drop it off in person the next morning to make sure they received it in time. 

"She's the most amazing person I know and I completely lucked out in having her as my mom. She deserves a night to honor her because it's something she would never do!"

After rearing her own daughter to successful young adulthood, it would have been easy for Deborah to hand over the reins to other parents. But instead she has soldiered on for betterment of all because if not her, then who?

In other words,
Unless someone like you 
cares a whole awful lot, 
nothing is going to get 
better. It's not.

Deborah is a remarkable example of a person who brings extraordinary skills to ordinary challenges, receding into the background where the real work gets done, always with an eye to improving circumstances for the youth of the community... Because somebody has to do it. 

Congratulations Deborah Barrell, Distinguished Community Service to Youth. 

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