Veteran insurance advisor David Barber was honoured by the Ontario government for his good works related to advancing human rights and opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. On Jan. 31 he was one of 13 Ontarians to receive the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship from the province’s Lieutenant-Governor.
Mr. Barber and his wife Sharon Piper own Piper, Barber Insurance Agency in Toronto. For five years Mr. Barber was also president of the Independent Financial Brokers of Canada (IFB). He stepped down from this position in 2005.
Since the age of 16, Mr. Barber has been volunteering for organizations such as Toronto’s
Sunnybrook Hospital, the Canadian Red Cross, the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Community Living Simcoe and Community Living Ontario. Mr. Barber served two terms as president of the board of this organization. Among other accomplishments, during his first term as president, he led Community Living Ontario in successfully challenging the government to repeal the name of "Homes for Retarded Persons Act", which the group considered offensive, outdated and harmful to individuals with disabilities.
Keith Powell, executive director of Community Living Ontario, which is the organization that nominated Mr. Barber for the award, said, "David is a tireless champion for people who have a disability…his inspiration comes from a deeply personal place as he has a cousin who has a disability. He has always wanted to ensure that she, and people with similar challenges, enjoy the same opportunities as other people."
Asked by The Insurance Journal what drives his interest in volunteer work, Mr. Barber replied, "It is now a full part of my life, something that I feel compelled to do because I get such a thrill out of achieving tremendous victories for people with an intellectual disability."He encourages everyone to get involved. "In our busy lives and search for financial independence, we often forget how important it is for us to give of our time, our resources and our counsel to organizations and people who through no fault of their own, are placed in the unenviable position of really needing our help," he said, adding "Volunteer. The pay-back to you in personal satisfaction alone will make it all worthwhile and the people you help will be eternally grateful."