Meet Sally Barker

Creating positive change in the community usually starts with a challenging situation. Sally Barker’s journey was among the most difficult; it began when she lost her son, Alex, to suicide as he struggled to cope with depression.

When Alex’s life ended, Barker decided to turn this talented young man’s story into a starting point. She worked with the St. Louis Community Foundation to create a social networking site called Feeling Kinda Blue that would provide a safe, supportive place for others who were battling personal challenges in their lives.

“I could not have pursued my philanthropic goals without STLCF. I had a project in mind that would honor my son’s memory, but I did not want to establish my own foundation. I didn’t have the funds, expertise, or time to justify that,” Barker said.

Instead, Barker set up a Donor Advised Fund at the Foundation and has used it to distribute grants to several charitable organizations as well as create the website.

“STLCF has guided me through the process of sending out grant requests, helped evaluate the responses, and monitored the grantees’ progress. For the website, I underestimated the amount of time and patience it would take. A project that is a novel idea, which is what we’re pursuing, takes longer. They are a sounding board and a great support when I felt very frustrated,” Barker said.

Barker has been most impressed with the Foundation’s goal of supporting the region and the people in it.

“I think the Foundation embodies philanthropy. It’s not a business that focuses on earning your investment fee, but rather is truly concerned about helping people implement philanthropic projects that will help the community,” Barker said.

Learn more about Feeling Kinda Blue by watching this story on KSDK or reading this feature article from the  St. Louis Post Dispatch. Barker was honored at the Gateway Center for Giving’s Annual Meeting for her excellence in innovation in philanthropy.