Each week, San Bruno Patch will feature an amazing kid, youth group, teen, sports team, volunteer or educator that wows us with their accomplishments and community service.
This week, we feature a councilman who sees serving the community not just as an obligation but also as a way of life.
Patch Citizen of the Week
Name/Age: Ken Ibarra, 53
Job: Architect and
Accomplishment: Ken Ibarra is known mostly for his profession as an architect and, most notably, for his political job as a San Bruno councilman—a position he has held since 1997.
But what often goes unnoticed or even mentioned by Ibarra himself, those who know him say, is that he volunteers like there is no tomorrow. His family and friends say he lends a hand wherever he is needed and doesn’t need a thank you to keep coming back and offering his help.
“He has never looked for a way to profit or benefit from helping others,” said Amy Fink, Ibarra’s partner. “He has always put the needs of others in front of his own needs.”
Ibarra has been a member of the San Bruno Lions Club since 1992. He was president from 1997 to 1998 and served as a district governor—the top office held in a district, which includes San Francisco and San Mateo Counties and Palo Alto—from 2009-10. At the time, he oversaw 46 Lions Clubs and more than 1,400 members.
He currently serves on the board for the San Bruno club and is the editor of the club’s newsletter, The Growl.
The organization recently helped 41 needy families in the , something they have done for more than 20 years. The club budgets $2,500 to $3,000 and partners with local grocers to pack boxes of canned goods, staples and dry goods.
The club then delivers the goods to the schools without any fanfare or acknowledgement, Ibarra said.
“The best feeling and reward is when you can do something for someone, especially those who are struggling or disadvantaged or suffering from a tragedy,” he said.
This year, the San Bruno Lions Club collected more than $80,000 in donations for the Sept. 9, 2010, pipeline explosion victims, and Ibarra played a key role in assisting those families through his volunteering efforts.
“In distributing the funds, I was able to meet and assist some of the 50 families and help advocate during their struggles to deal with recovery,” Ibarra said.
Ibarra is now serving as co-chair of San Bruno's Relay for Life event in April. Part of his motivation for participating in leading the event is because he lost his stepmother and a close friend to cancer.
“The American Cancer Society is such a good cause to support, especially when so many of us have been touched by cancer in some way,” Ibarra said. “I want the entire San Bruno community to participate in this worthwhile event.”
Since November 2010, Ibarra has also been helping the San Francisco Bayview Hunters Point Lions Club serve soup to about 150 homeless people every Wednesday night for about an hour outside of the St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter on Third and McKinnon streets in San Francisco.
He also helps with a program called Warm Hands and Feet, which collects thousands of pairs of gloves and socks for the homeless. Ibarra is working on a program to bring in more help with the Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter.
Ibarra began volunteering at when his daughters were attending. He also joined the San Bruno Chamber of Commerce and coached girls softball for eight years. He volunteered at the senior center during bingo nights for more than 10 years.
“They say it’s supposed to be family first, job second, extra curricular activities (in this case, helping others and volunteering) third. I always say (Ken) didn’t get that memo,” Fink said. “He is my everyday hero, making miracles through service on a daily basis.”
Motivation: “I suppose I simply care—no more than others, but probably more in various areas,” Ibarra said. “I am the one that finds it difficult to say ‘no.' However, if I can't help directly, I will surely try and get someone to help.”