Area Agency on Aging Board Member Barbara Pembamoto:
She's All About Helping Others
For the past three years, Barbara Pembamoto has served as a board member of Area Agency on Aging of Palm Beach and Treasure Coast. Before that, she worked for the agency as a volunteer and then got hired to manage the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
Barbara has spent her entire life helping the less fortunate. Now retired from working professionally, she’s not planning to slow down in making life better for others.
She explains why.
Barbara Pembamoto’s earliest memories as a child are still clear today.
There are lots of family members in her home in Baltimore, Maryland. They are preparing bags of food and clothing for the homeless. They are making calls on the phone to raise money for the poor. They are packing up the cars with other much-needed supplies for the local women’s shelter and food pantry.
“It was all about helping other people,” she said, recalling her family’s community service rooted in their religious beliefs.
Before long, Barbara, too, was packing bags, making calls, and leading others to help the needy across Maryland. As she grew older, and raised her own family and worked professionally as a manager in the public and private sectors, she continued her work on behalf of the underprivileged, with mission trips across Africa and the Americas.
Even today, as she enjoys retirement in Palm Beach County, she hasn’t stopped working for those needing a hand – especially the elderly.
“If you help people, you help people – it never stops,” Barbara said. “I came from a large family and this is what we all did and continue to do today.”
Barbara can be best described as energetic, witty, headstrong, and, of course, altruistic. She is who she is because of her deep faith.
“The driving force in all that I’ve done in life is my faith in Christ. Everything is predicated on that,” she said.
From her home in Lake Park, she keeps a busy daily schedule, caregiving for two women in their early 90s. On top of that, she helps run a social services organization in Riviera Beach. And she’s fully committed to Area Agency on Aging as a board member.
“People think when you get old, you roll over – not me,” Barbara said. “I love my work particular the work I do at Area Agency on Aging. I love that place. It’s all about helping other people.”
Her husband, Kenneth, has been her partner through it all. He, too, came from a religious family. He grew up in the Congo.
“He’s worse than me,” she joked, explaining his involvement in charity work. “He takes people to doctor’s offices and helps them get food and medicine. He’s constantly on the go.”
Together, they traveled across the Congo, Zambia, Haiti, and other poor countries, training locals for jobs, giving them food, and helping with anything else that was needed. They’d go as often as possible, during vacations and extended time off from their jobs.
When she moved to Palm Beach County in 2001, Barbara wanted to remain active in helping the elderly. A friend told her about Area Agency on Aging, so she attended training to become a volunteer. She loved the work and went on to be hired by the agency to train other volunteers. She left the agency to care for a sick relative and then returned to join the board.
“This is where I belong,” she said.
Barbara is grateful to her parents and her seven brothers and sisters for instilling in her a passion to improving lives. She calls it a gift.
“Helping others is what I do and will always do,” she said.