Sylvia Barnard


Name: Sylvia Barnard
Age: 39
Hometown: Santa Maria, CA
Profession: Executive Director of the Good Samaritan Shelter, Santa Maria

"My name is Sylvia Barnard, and I believe support and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand."

For some, just improving your own situation would be enough. Not for Sylvia Barnard.

Once a single mother on welfare at 19, Barnard not only went back to school and got her degrees, she took everything she learned about finding success and support and developed a curriculum for other mothers on welfare.

Called “One Mother to Another,” the curriculum, video and workbook series was marketed nationally and launched Barnard into a career in social work.

“I knew if I could take what I learned and share it, I realized I could make a difference,” she said.

Barnard is now the executive director of the Good Samaritan Shelter in Santa Maria, which provides support services to the homeless and those in recovery, serving approximately 5,000 people a year. She’s knows intimately the challenges that organizations like hers are facing during these tough economic times. Funding is tight and restricted, even as the need for recovery, mental health, and housing services seem to be growing. Yet Barnard doesn’t lose hope.

“If everyone has that vision or goal in mind of making a difference (acts on it), we could really change things as we know it,” she said. Californians’ ability to think outside the box extends to doing more with less.

“We’re creative thinkers,” she said. “We try to maximize resources when resources are limited.”