By Sherry Baker
2009 was a defining year; I turned 70 in June, which caused me to reflect on all the events that brought me to this milestone, still healthy and vigorous despite all the twists and turns in my life.
I grew up In Vancouver and graduated from UBC in 1960 with a Home Economics degree and then a subsequent Permanent Basic Teaching Certificate. That same year I married another student and taught high school in Burnaby until he was called to the Bar in 1963. Two daughters quickly followed and then a move to Chilliwack in 1965, where my son was born.
I started up an Interior Design Consulting business and then developed the Community Access television station at the Cable TV office (a precursor of the present Channel 4). I was always interested in the arts and after chairing the local Arts Council, we embarked upon a fund-raising campaign to build a theatre/arts centre. Once the funds were raised, I was elected to City Council were I remained until 1990.
I had gone back to Fraser Valley College during this period and earned a Diploma in Business Administration. 1990 was also defining year in that my marriage of 30 years ended in divorce, my first grandchild was born and I started my consulting business, Sherry Baker & Associates, which I operate to this day. I focus on community and business development, strategic planning, boards, proposal writing and workshops/teaching.
As it became apparent I needed more current credentials to get the kind of community-based job I was looking for, at the age of 55, I finished a Master of Arts degree in Applied Behavioral Science with an emphasis on Organizational Development from the Leadership Institute of Seattle. This led to a move to Langley to become the Executive Director of Ishtar Transition Housing Society and later concurrently Executive Director of Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services.
Eventually I bought into a new company which was trying to start an employment matching service for seniors www.55pluspros.ca They were also involved in digital signage which took over all the activities for three years, leaving 55pluspros to limp along as best it could. This year, I had to close down the business and I took www.55pluspros.ca home with me. We are updating the website and are poised to aggressively take it Canada-wide.
Through all of this activity, I have been on many boards and committees in following my passion for making community the very best it can be. Presently I am the incoming Chair of the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support (providing legal services and support dealing mainly with elder abuse) and a public member on the College of Occupational Therapists of BC as well as the Director for Protocol for the 2010 BC Summer Games In Langley. I am a member of Langley’s Emergency Social Services team and am past President and current Secretary of the Rotary Club of Langley Sunrise. I belong to Soroptomist International and am also involved with the Murrayville Performers and have just celebrated my stage debut.
I now have 6 wonderful grandchildren between the ages of 5 and 19 and a host of friends who fill my days with joy. I fully intend to make the next phase of my life the best yet. What have I learned from all my experiences combined?
1. Nothing is possible without good health. I exercise every day and keep my mind active with all my projects and interests.
2. Nothing is more gratifying than knowing that what you do helps others in family, and in community.
3. Saying ‘YES” to requests always provides an opportunity to learn.
4. Taking risks is very scary but important as long as you don’t compromise your values
5. Dwelling on the failures and disappointments is a poor choice. They are good learning points but the choice must be made to move on.
6. Surround yourself with positive people of all ages and stages.
7. Being a grandmother is the best role of all.