The most important part of recovery is service. Any sponsor worth their weight in plastic chips will tell you that. This week I had the opportunity to sit down with someone who has dedicated their life to giving back. This week’s spotlight is on the new president of The Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood, Barbara Tell. 

Barbara is a Los Angeles native. She grew up in a family of educators where, from a young age, she was taught that, “if your needs are met, you have a responsibility to help others.” This ideal sculpted her life into one dedicated to helping others, and today she is engaged in community service wherever possible. This passion for service has shown up around BTS in the form of The Puppy Program, The Sisterhood, and The Gala.

Barbara went to college at Temple University in Philadelphia where she pursued her passion for art. This would prove to be a transformative experience for her. Although she ended up working in real estate, for most of her career, she developed a finer taste for the arts in college. The lasting impression art school left on her would eventually lead her to Beit T’Shuvah.

A naturally independent person, Barbara was forced to become a strong collaborator when she began working in real estate. This did not come easily. In our interview, she told me, “ I am a great team player, as long as it’s my team.” The perfect phrase to define the rest of her career in real estate. While not the most tactful in working alongside others, she was a natural-born leader. Barbara quickly rose the ranks of the real estate industry and worked in project management for some of the top Los Angeles developers. 

After a long and successful career in real estate, working for many major development companies, she retired. But Barbara is a woman of action, and her drive to do good in the world would not let her become complacent. After the birth of her son and only a few years of retirement under her belt, she returned to the working world with a part-time position at Mt. Saint Mary’s University. She would go on to retire a second time, but has continued to ‘pay it forward’ by tutoring students in the language arts, volunteering as a tour guide at the Page Museum, and working for the LA Chamber Orchestra where she met another esteemed member of our community, Pat Gage. 

The two immediately clicked. They co-produced a play together and, in the process, Barbara was introduced to Beit T’Shuvah. Here she has found community and a connection to her Higher Power. As she has immersed herself deeper into our ecosystem and gotten to know the residents, her connection has grown and so has her love for what we do here. She found God here, but in typical Barbara fashion, she wanted to contribute more to our cause. This lead her into her new role as The Beit T’Shuvah Sisterhood president.

As the head of a community organization, Barbara wants to do more than just lead a welcome wagon for new members, as is so prevalent in other temples. She wants the bond between the members of The Sisterhood to be so strong that it builds a community within a community, a congregation within a congregation, a…well…sisterhood. She wants to find a niche between Beit T’Shuvah the community, and Beit T’Shuvah the rehab. She is looking for more ways for the community to support the residents, and in the process strengthen the connection between the two groups. Her goal is to help residents increase their self-confidence and self-reliance—letting them know that there is a family—there is a Sisterhood there to support them. We are so grateful for all of the amazing contributions that Barbara makes to Beit T’Shuvah and are beyond excited for what her new role will bring. 

Thank you for your service, Madam President.

Spotlight on Barbara Tell by Jonah L.

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