Our community lost an amazing woman this week. Barbara Riggs, passed on, leaving a legacy of love, generosity and goodwill. She fulfilled many vital roles in her life: daughter, wife, mother, friend. Additionally, she will be greatly remembered by the hundreds of children and families whose lives she shaped as a teacher and Big Sister while volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County. It’s people like Barbara who make Santa Barbara great.
Barbara joined the program six years ago because, as a teacher, she saw how important it is young people to have a stable mentor. She was paired with Little Sister Donna, a quiet, yet bright child. Barbara dedicated herself to Donna, spending time with her each week, engaging Donna in her community and her education. The impacts Barbara made on Donna and her family were tremendous. Toward the end, even in severe pain, Barbara continued to plan for the well-being of her Little Sister, contacting me to ensure Donna has the resources to live a happy, fruitful life, well into adulthood.
While Barbara’s passing feels heartbreaking, her life serves as a reminder that each of us has, within ourselves, the capacity to positively change the world by connecting with others. All of us at Family Service Agency and Big Brothers Big Sisters are incredibly thankful for the compassion and dedication to the well-being of our community’s children that Barbara, as well her fellow teachers and volunteer Big Brothers and Big Sisters throughout the county, exemplify. Barbara’s spirit will live on — in each life she touched and in each family she helped.
Sarah Rudd is program manager of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County.