Sandra Barge

Transcript of Sandra Barge
Interviewee: Sandra Barge
Interviewer: Dorothy Nygren, Richard Ludka
Date: March 6th, 2015
Place: Pan-African Association - 6163 N. Broadway
Transcriber: Richard Ludka
Total Time: 11:23

Copyright © 2015 Edgewater Historical Society

DN: I’d like to start this interview by asking you to state your name and the address where you live…

SB: My name is Sandra Barge and I live in Edgewater.

DN: How long have you lived in Edgewater?

SB: Two years.

DN: When you moved you Edgewater I think you were telling me you came here after your retirement…

SB: Yes, I retired January 2013 after 49 years of work.

DN: Once you retired you were looking for new things to do with your time, and you decided you wanted to volunteer. Why did you decide you wanted to volunteer when you could have done all kinds of other things?

SB: I do engage in all kinds of other things, but what was missing, I wanted to do something to give back…to give back to society. It gives you a good feeling that you have someone and someone is helping you, that you’re needed. You go home and relax and made a good purpose for the day. This was my way of giving back.


DN: How did you decide where you wanted to go to give back?

SB: I went to a rummage sale at the First Church of Atonement and I asked to be on their mailing list. They began to send me weekly emails. I read about their extra activities – Care for Real and Pan-African Association – and read the details of it, called to inquire, came for an interview and thought this would be an excellent opportunity for me. I thought, “I think I would like that.”

DN: What appealed to you about Care for Real?

[Transcriber’s Note: Sandra responds to next set of questions based on her volunteer activities at Pan African not Care for Real.]

SB: What appealed to me was that it gave me a rude awakening of immigration: how we don’t always look at how fortunate and rich we are, how helpful we can be, and to watch that you make others happy, satisfied, and smile, and give them things that they need. You help them move along as they adjust and settle. Different things like that were new to me.

DN: I think that sometimes in our busy lives we’re often not aware of those less fortunate than we are.

SB: Yes, I agree.

DN: At Care for Real you had an interview and were accepted as a volunteer. What is it that you do at Care for Real?

[Note: Sandra answers regarding her role at Pan African]


SB: I am a receptionist on Fridays, but I feel that receptionist is quite an important position within any industry office because as the refugees come in I am the first person that you see. I think I set the tone for the company, when they come in they see me. I want to be sure to make them feel welcome, I want to dress appropriately to represent the company and show that I’m helpful with solving whatever it is that they came in for.

DN: So you feel that when an immigrant or refugee first walks in the door at Care for Real you want them to feel welcome. What kinds of thing do you do to make them feel welcome?

[Note: Again Sandra answers regarding her role at Pan African.]

SB: I can right away let whomever they should want to see, the appropriate one, tell if they’re not exactly ready at that moment and can continuously converse with them and ensure them we didn’t forget you - the individual you came you see will be coming. I can also offer to take their coat and hang it up, different things like that.

DN: Do you feel that it is important to present a welcoming physical presence?

SB: Yes I do. A welcoming physical presence. You try to be a role model of what you would look for when you want to hire for a job as you work on getting a job. Or, you know, the way that it is in the United States, and to keep your self esteem.

DN: Do you feel that your facial expression is important when you first meet people? Could you talk about that a little?


SB: Yes, a smile is worth more than one hundred words when they come in, because it is like opening the first door - it prepares them for the next person they want to see. When you smile at a person and you’re soft spoken and patient, you show that you are really concerned from the heart about getting them where they want to be or what they want to accomplish while visiting this place this particular day. 

DN: That’s wonderful, a beautiful thought. How much time per week do you volunteer at Care for Real?

SB: Now Care for Real – I volunteer when they have special events. For example, they had a special event where the Salvation Army came out and had health kits and went through each kit – what to do, what each thing was for, and what is it for, and when you use it – and it was just getting into the winter months. We had to help them decide on coats for the family: the coat for mama, the coat for the children, the coat for papa, and advise on styles and advise what is best. Usually when they have special events like that I go down to Care for Real.

DN: So you volunteer for Care for Real on an as-needed basis?

SB: Yes, exactly.

DN: What about for Pan-African, how much time do you volunteer here?

SB: Every Friday.

DN: I think you said at Pan-African you volunteer as a receptionist?

SB: Yes, every Friday.

DN: Do you find that when you leave here you are uplifted from this work, or are you tired out from doing it?


SB: I am uplifted. I have grown, grown to be more sensitive to the needs of others. I’ve grown more in terms of becoming a people person, I’ve grown more to mingle and be involved in a diverse setting. I feel as though there are many instances I have helped someone.

DN: Sandra, this is your interview. We’ve asked a fair amount of questions… is there anything else you’d like to talk about regarding your volunteer efforts or the needs immigrants and refugees have?

SB: I would like to grow more as a receptionist and from this work. I think I would like to give more time – I’ve even thought of taking some of the languages. I thought, you know, I could this or maybe do that and be more resourceful. I’d like to be more involved; I’m very intrigued by this volunteer work.

DN: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your experiences in Edgewater, or the needs of immigrants and refugees? Can you speak to anybody that’s listening about what their needs are that you’ve seen pass though the door here?


SB: Their needs. Yes, they have a plethora of needs: how to write, their speaking – their English classes are most imperative, understanding rights of living, how to properly maintain good health, many, many needs.

DN: So there’s a really large need for Edgewater residents to pitch in and help, would you say?

SB: Oh yes, yes. Lots of room for that.

DN: Is there anything else you’d like to contribute while we’re doing this interview?

SB: No, I don’t think so.

DN: You’ve certainly helped people who are going to watch this understand what the role of volunteer is when working with refugees and immigrants and what the need is here. We thank you very much for sharing that with us.

SB: Thank you.