The OCP Blog

Featured Volunteer of the Month: George Barksdale

“The sun traverses the sky, the rivers flow on, the seasons come and go as steadily as the revolving of a wheel. Everything is part of the great and eternally moving Tao”. –Deng Ming-Dao-

As you first get acquainted with our feature volunteer of the month, Mr. George Barksdale, it is rare when he doesn’t exhibit his flamboyant smile, or share his sense of appreciation for sharing the same place with you.  Born in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Barksdale grew up in a family where he was the second of six siblings. Mr. Barksdale lived the first part of his life in Norfolk, and then moved to Philadelphia to care for his adoptive mother’s brother who was going through the last stage of cancer. Mr. Barksdale ended up living in Philadelphia for over 25 years. After the death of the gentleman he was taking care of, Mr. Barksdale started working as a painter and doing other small jobs here and there to pay rent. “Being away from my direct family for all those years taught me a lot about myself,” Mr. Barksdale stated. After losing everything and living in a bowling alley, it was about time to turn that page and find a different flow in his life.

Mr. Barksdale arrived in the Harrisonburg community about four and a half years ago to be with his sister, and to re-friend his body, mind, and spirit. His desire to be somewhere he belongs or with people who love him brought him to our community. “She (OCP) keeps me going, and makes sure that I am still kicking,” Mr. George Barksdale stated. The first time he walked into Our Community Place, about three years ago, the images on the wall, paintings, and other creative artwork caught Mr. Barksdale’s attention.  “The love that I received from people working at OCP when I first walked in, people like Miss Sadie, Ron, and the staff members is the only reason why I keep coming back for 3 years now, since the first time I walked into the OCP doors.”

“The place didn’t look like a community center I was used to….What type of community center let the people who are there to eat, volunteer into making the food they will eat?” Mr. George Barksdale asked, with a smile on his face. Then Mr. Barksdale shouted: “O.C.P, O.C.P, O.C.P!” Allowing our community members to take full part in the making of the dish du jour gives them a space to grow and regain self worth and a feeling of belonging.

When you first walk into Our Community Place, something welcomes you and encourages you to keep coming back. And for four years, that energy has brought Mr. George Barksdale back to OCP again and again.

Leons Kabongo

Program & Activities Coordinator