Champion of Dunbar Village
Ingman Baker’s resume reflects an incredibly diverse academic career and a full slate of volunteerism equal in length to her employ-ment experience. Not only does she hold a degree in law but also a PhD in biochemistry. When asked about this she laughs and says, “Some would call me jack of all trades, master of none.”
More likely people would call her an active community-minded citizen who has the best interests of Dunbar at the top of her list.
Her array of volunteer work includes five years as a board member with the Dunbar Residents Association, her ongoing role as chair of the Dunbar Vision Implementation Group (she has been actively involved for nine years), and her latest volunteer venture, as vice president of programing with the Dunbar Community Centre Association.
Ingman Baker has lived in Dunbar for 27 years. She recalls visiting the Dunbar Community Centre frequently when her children were growing up but noticed in the last few years that patron usage was slipping. She isn’t one to sit back and wait for someone else to do something; she rolls up her sleeves and jumps in to offer assistance.
Her volunteer work with the Dunbar Community Centre Association is currently her largest involvement with a commitment of close to 20 hours each week. She joined the executive 18 months ago and is happy to report that the facility has “turned a corner.”
The Dunbar Community Centre’s parking lot is busy again. This is largely due to adapting program-ming to meet the community’s needs.
She has a visionary quality and is determined to make the community an even better place to live. The seasoned lawyer/UBC adjunct professor in the Faculty of Medicine is always asking questions and looking for answers.
She chuckles when she reports she is currently taking a master gardener course, as she would like to see gardening flourish in the community. She believes gardening is an important part of our culture and the Dunbar Community Centre will eventually offer a course to teach new residents these skills. Ingman Baker feels it will help bring people together and ultimately help to better under-stand each other.
She says new residents from Asia often hail from concrete cities and are in awe of our city’s greenery, lawns and gardens. It is her belief that working side by side and creating a gardening community will foster more tolerance and break down stereotypes.
Examples of other adaptive programming include an exercise class for ages 50 plus. She says some octogenarians really love it. An outdoor preschool program has been well received and line dancing to Mandarin music, mahjong and table tennis always draw crowds.
Speaking of crowds, Ingman Baker is extremely impressed with the turn out at 2015 holiday craft fair. Vendors reported higher sales than the last few years and over 2,500 people passed through the community centre.
Salmonberry Days is one of this dedicated volunteer’s favourite events. With a smile she says, “It is wonderful to see happy people enjoying a free event with bouncy castles and volunteers barbequing $2 hotdogs.” She and the entire Dunbar Community Centre Assoc-iation board have taken the Food Safe course so they can serve food at all events.
Ingman Baker is always searching for ways to engage more adults on a volunteer basis in their community.
She asks, “How do we give people the tools to get a satisfying volunteer experience?”
She believes it is entirely possible based on the record number of volunteers that popped out of the woodwork during the 2010 Winter Olympics. She says teen volunteerism is in good shape thanks to the mandate of accruing community volunteer hours as part of the high school curriculum.
Ingman Baker grew up in London and started volunteering as a teenager. She regularly visited seniors’ homes and psychiatric hospitals and later became an active volunteer at the University of Sussex.
Where did her philanthropic nature stem from? She says it is a combination of being innate and modeled by her parents and grandparents. “I come from a family of gregarious people. We are people who know our neighbours.” She adds, “Your personal health reflects the health of your community.”
Regarding volunteer experiences and moving on after a time she says, “It is a time to refresh and renew with new experiences.”
A good friend shared words that resonate with her, “Leave an organization in better shape than you find it.” She has certainly taken this to heart with the legacy of valuable work she has contributed to many Dunbar organizations through her gift of experience and time.
She says, “There is a lot of talk about Dunbar village, and a lot of things that happen here are village-like.” She notes that the only move she and her family made was when they bought their neighbour’s house four doors away. She feels this is part of the small town charm of Dunbar.
She recalls when a new headmaster arrived at St. George’s School. He was smitten with the local independent shops where merchants know their customers by name and people recognize each other on the street. It is Ingman Baker’s hope to foster and maintain this sense of community. She feels, “It is possible. You have to see the silver linings.”
This champion of Dunbar’s commitment to her community is inspiring. She says, “The level of engagement and opportunities in Dunbar unparalleled in the city.”
Ingman Baker’s go-getter attitude may very well spawn a spike in Dunbar volunteerism as others follow suit and seek out the plethora of opportunities that lurk in this great neighbourhood.