Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
9:45 am EDT
Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Meet a Villager: Barbara Garbarczyk

After varied careers paths, and many lives touched, one Villager tells how her life came full circle, ending up as it should.

Photo: Nicole Hamel

Barbara Garbarczyk, a Eucharistic minister involved with the women’s guild at St. Mark’s Church in The Villages loves to swim, polka, play Mahjong, garden, and sing, but before retiring in The Villages in November 2015, her days were laden with numbers. 

Barbara was a math teacher at an inner-city school in Worcester, Massachusetts for 10 years, a job she would realize was her life’s true calling.  

Years prior to that, Barbara also taught math at different parochial schools, and served her God as a nun in a convent in Connecticut, a 20-year role she’d previously considered her calling.

“The real difference there was that when I taught in parochial schools, I wore a habit and kids respected me because they were taught to,” Barbara says. “As for the kids at the school in Worcester, I had to earn their respect.”

Even so, Barbara says the road there was not easy, even with three master’s degrees – in teaching, religious studies, and public administration – under her belt.

“Leaving the convent was probably the hardest thing I ever did, and I didn’t do it because I was unhappy there, I just wondered if God wanted something more from me,” Barbara says. “I had a very hard time finding a job, so I got a nothing job processing health insurance.” 

“After that year, I was accepted into a training program to become a nursing home administrator, so I did that for 13 years,” Barbara says, explaining that what steered her in the direction of her fate was a desperate phone call from an old friend who knew she loved teaching, when her school’s math teacher quit last minute at the start of that school year (2005).

“I went for the interview, got the job, and that’s where I really knew why I had left the convent because now, I was teaching inner-city in Worcester, Massachusetts, and that was really a mission,” Barbara says.  “As much as I thought being in the convent was being dedicated and it was, this really felt like I was serving someone.”

Looking back, Barbara says every road taken brought people into her life she may not have otherwise crossed paths with, and she’s grateful. 

That includes her ‘God-put-together family,’ a couple she stayed with for 14 years after leaving the convent, Lucille Ameduri, her ‘sister by choice’ and roommate since leaving Connecticut for The Villages who she stood beside through her fight against breast cancer, and former students, some of whom she still keeps in touch with, and whose successes as adults, bring her joy. 

“I think there were reasons I was supposed to be here and at every point of my life where I ended up,” Barbara says. 

About the Author

Originally from Nogales, Arizona, Roxanne worked in the customer service industry while writing independently for years. After moving to Florida in 1999, Roxanne eventually switched her career path to focus more on writing and went on to become an award-winning reporter for The Daily Commercial/South Lake Press newspapers for 16 years prior to coming on board with Akers Media as a staff writer in July 2020 – her dream job come true. Today, Roxanne and her husband Keith of more than 20 years, live in Clermont. They have three grown children: Megan, Darius and Julissa and two dogs, Cinnamon and Remi Lulu. Roxanne says her favorite things about writing articles is talking with the people she'll be featuring, listening to their stories and learning about their passions, goals and heart. Overall, Roxanne is grateful for all the opportunities she's been given to personally witness and realize how much of a difference people can make and how every voice, big and small, really matters. In her spare time and besides writing, Roxanne enjoys spending time with her family, listening to music (especially on vinyl), Zumba, taking pictures, reading, watching movies, cooking with Julissa, and reality TV competition shows. As for her bucket list, Roxanne hopes to one day be a published author of children’s books and travel the world chasing sunsets.

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