Remembering Robert Barnes


photo courtesy of CEF

November 16, 2019

Dear IFC Community,

It is with a very heavy heart that I share the news of the loss of a dear, loyal friend and member of IFC's staff team, Robert Barnes.

Robert collapsed during his dinner shift at the Community Kitchen last night. Paramedics responded quickly but were unable to revive him. Our friends from Chapel of the Cross were the volunteer meal group on-site, and we are deeply grateful for their presence and support during this unexpected crisis. 

Robert was beloved by staff, members, and volunteers. He was kind and compassionate, with a unique patience for people who had difficulty adhering to rules or who needed special care. He valued his relationships and was able to connect with anyone. No matter what struggles people brought with them to IFC, he could look beneath the surface and honor their humanity, something we cannot take for granted in our society these days. 

So many of you have known and worked alongside Robert for years. He has staffed hundreds of meal groups at the Community Kitchen. He was a compassionate and friendly face to countless community members facing their own crises. He traded news and laughter with many staff and volunteers. I hate to think about the next weeks and months without Robert looking out for the well-being of our IFC community. Robert Barnes was one of a kind. 

We invite you to contribute a remembrance of Robert or sentiments to share with those in our community who knew Robert and valued his friendship.

Although IFC's offices only moved to Rosemary Street in April, it seems like Robert has been a regular part of my work life forever. He stopped by our office when he arrived to start his workday. If he got busy right away, he would make his way back before the evening ended. We would chat about whatever was happening that day - the dinner menu or the meal group, a current event in the community, a member who achieved a milestone or who he was concerned about, a policy that needed to be changed. Whatever the topic of conversation, Robert would always end our chats with, "Yeah, that's what's up."

I don't know yet how this community will decide to grieve our loss and celebrate Robert's life. Once we move through the shock of last night's events, we will figure that out together. 

But I do know one thing. We miss you already, Robert Barnes. It's hard to believe you're really gone. You left us too soon, and IFC will never be the same without you.Yeah, that's what's up. 

In grief and sadness,

Jackie Jenks
Executive Director