Meet Our Volunteers: Bob McGarry and Barb Foreman

Cara Staff

The sense of community you feel at Cara is intentional, real, and one of our defining principles. There are so many people that foster this sense of community, and we are celebrating a few in particular: our volunteers. We are immensely grateful for the time and effort volunteers give to our mission. Learn more about who they are and their incredible work here at Cara.

Who works with Cara participants to write professional resumes?

Brother and sister duo, Bob McGarry and Barb Foreman, are our secret to resume writing success. All Cara participants going through our downtown campus training work with Bob and Barb on writing or improving their resume. The pair dedicates their time and talent to make sure that when our participants apply for jobs, their applications stand out for their professionalism.

Student Development Coordinator Christine Allen says, “Bob McGarry and Barb Foreman are truly loyal and dedicated to our mission to help participants find real and lasting success. Bob and Barb work with Cara participants to develop resumes that capture their strengths to gain the attention of potential employers. Getting each and every resume right takes considerable time and commitment. We couldn’t accomplish it without them, and we are so thankful for their continued support!”

What’s your background?

Bob and Barb: We grew up in a family of six, our parents and four siblings, on the southwest side of the city and went through grades K-12 in the public school system. 

Bob: My wife and I have been married for 36 years. We have three kids – two daughters and one son. They live in Portland, Brooklyn, and St Louis. I had a sales career selling complex automation equipment to the industry. After many years of overnight travel, I decided to become an Executive Recruiter. After 8 years as a recruiter in the automation industry, I retired and started volunteering at Cara.

Barb: My husband and I have been married for 36 years and have lived in La Grange for 33 years. We have a son, who lives in Arizona. My work history is varied like so many of the folks at Cara! I did administrative work for businesses large and small for many years. I also worked for a community of religious sisters. Most recently, I was the Program & Facilities Coordinator for the Spirituality Center, and I’ve worked in the Fulfillment Center shipping the awesome art created and sold by the sisters and friends of the community.

Why did you choose to volunteer with Cara?

Bob: A little over seven years ago, I came to Cara by way of an ad that was run on the Idealist. org website.  I met Cara staff member Deborah, and she gave me a tour. (Cara had just moved to its current building.) I remember Deborah discussing the program and mentioning Transformations. Having volunteered at other workforce non-profits, I was extremely interested because I had never heard of anything like it. I actually said to Deborah, “What a great idea!  How do I sign up?”

Barb: My brother has a never-ending stockpile of fascinating and funny stories about his very extensive volunteer experiences, but his work helping with participant resumes at Cara was of special interest to me. It occurred to both of us that I might be a good fit. Shortly after our dad passed away, Bob needed help in Cara’s computer lab working with participants on their resumes. I stepped up and into the role and haven’t looked back; I’ve been a regular volunteer for over 2 years.

How do you volunteer at Cara?

Bob: My first four years at Cara, I taught three computer classes: Basic Computer Skills, Word, and Excel.  When Cara reduced Transformations training from six weeks to four weeks, it became impossible to teach all of the classes. That’s when I started working on resumes. For the last three years, I have been teaching a resume writing class and working with Cara participants on writing resumes. I was joined by my sister Barb about two years ago, and she has been a tremendous help. As a matter of fact, I don’t know how I did the resume class and wrote resumes by myself. Barb caught on quickly and loves Cara; I don’t know what I would do without her.

Barb: My role is an assistant to Bob in the resume-building workshop. With each new group of participants, we first do an orientation that includes the step-by-step process of how to use the Cara student email and an overview of creating a resume. At the end of the orientation, participants pass along whatever resume information they already have, which is sometimes versions of existing resumes or handwritten experience sheets with contact information and work history. Before we leave the computer lab, I quickly skim the materials and immediately foist half of the resumes that seem most challenging onto Bob. I greedily keep the less complicated ones for myself. 

Bob and Barb: Working from our homes, we create draft resumes to share at our next on-site session. Each participant comes forward individually to help us fill in any information gaps on the draft resumes. After more work at home, additional tweaking by email, and another session or two, participants have their resumes ready for their job applications.

What difference has Cara made in your life?

Bob:I have gained new perspectives just from listening and conversing with people I have met at Cara. It reminds you to appreciate the truly important things in your life. For me, that’s family and friends. I find that I get back more than I give from the work I do at Cara.

Barb: It is just so cool to volunteer with my MUCH OLDER brother. He was out of the house, living his own life, when I was pretty young. The chance for us to first help our dad and now to volunteer together at Cara has been completely awesome.

What’s the best experience you’ve had as a Cara volunteer?

Bob: Hmm that’s kind of a trick question.  Almost every time I come to Cara I have a “best experience”.  But one of my favorites is when anyone “rings the bell!”

Barb:  In the computer lab, during Motivations, or in one-on-one conversations, Cara participants are endlessly fascinating, generous, inspiring, kind, surprising, hilarious, trusting, and insightful. I can’t get enough of them. And Cara staff…well, all I can say is it’s a privilege to work among real-life superheroes. I think of all of us—staff, participants, volunteers—simply as “Cara-cters” (Characters).

Why do you think it’s important to give back to the community?

Bob: Every time I’m at Cara, I am reminded of the importance of community and coming together to help each other through challenging times in life. We are stronger together than we are alone, and working together, we can help make our communities a better place for us all.

Barb: We are all immersed in something bigger than ourselves—moving the world toward greater inclusiveness and more care and compassion.

Have you ever attended or spoken at Motivations?

Bob and Barb: We have both been to Motivations many times. I (Bob) get teased all of the time about not going into the Motivations circle; I still have never been in the middle.

How has volunteering at Cara changed the way you understand the challenges we face in our city such as poverty and homelessness?

Bob: There are many, many challenges in our city, and most certainly two are poverty and homelessness.  My volunteering at Cara has really brought into focus what poverty and homelessness really is- a human and civil rights issue.

Barb: Cara proves the truth I’ve been learning for many years; all is one. There really is no greater or lesser, no give-and-take or back-and-forth; nothing transactional happens at Cara.

One of our favorite Motivations questions: At this point in your life, what motivates you?

Bob: Ah yes, the classic Motivations question. I am motivated when I have a concrete goal to meet and enough time to figure out a strong strategy for accomplishing the project or goal. Throw any kind of challenge at me and boy oh boy am I motivated.  

Barb: The participation in the journey toward the fullness of love is what motivates me.

At Cara, we help participants break the cycle of poverty by providing them with the training and skills they need to get and keep meaningful work. Join us in our movement to bring back hope, jobs, and opportunity by donating or becoming a volunteer today.