When you first meet Joe Barnes, you may not realize that he has a passion for giving. He’s modest to a fault and won’t mention the hours of time he gives to charitable organizations. But for more than a decade, Joe has been an integral part of the Arthritis Foundation’s Oregon office, helping grow and develop a strong community of volunteers as well as expand fundraising events and advocacy programs in the area.
“The passion Joe has for helping the Arthritis Foundation is contagious,” says Scott Weaver, Arthritis Foundation vice president of volunteer development.” For over 10 years, he has provided ongoing support to the staff of the Oregon office and is always on site at events to help spread awareness. He makes everyone he talks to want to be a part of our mission. Every office would benefit greatly if they each had their own Joe Barnes.”
Joe has helped build and develop the Oregon program, working on almost every facet of planning, fundraising and advocacy. Though not personally affected by arthritis, Joe has come to have a deep connection with those he is helping, especially the children at Oregon’s Camp JAM, a camp that gives children and teens with arthritis and childhood rheumatic diseases a safe and secure camp experience. Joe was first introduced to the camp during its inaugural season in 2009 and has since become passionate about its purpose.
“The first time I visited Camp JAM, I was shocked to see so many kids and families affected by arthritis,” says Joe. “Even though I was already a volunteer at the time, it was after that first camp visit that I truly committed to the Arthritis Foundation and its mission. Seeing those kids has made me more involved because I know every penny I can raise for arthritis research and every legislator I can speak with about this disease can help bring us closer to a cure.”
Joe’s passion extends beyond Camp JAM. He’s part of the team growing one of the office’s most-loved events, the Oregon Arthritis Bike Classic. Working to raise more than $200,000 during the seventh annual ride this September, Joe is among those that look forward to this amazing tour each year. But, he isn’t donning spandex shorts and a super sleek helmet. Instead he’s heading up logistics for the ride, making sure the bikers are cheerfully welcomed to a new camp each night along their six-day journey.
“I love the comradery of this event,” says Joe. “It is powerful to see so many people come together for a cause they believe in. They are all here for the single purpose of helping raise funds to fight arthritis.”
Joe isn’t just some of the muscle behind Oregon’s Arthritis Bike Classic, he’s also one of the brains, working with Foundation staff to finalize new routes and grow the event in both revenue and participation. It’s this all-in attitude that led Joe to chair of the Arthritis Foundation’s Oregon leadership board. In this position, he’s able to help make sure every event the state hosts is successful, all while growing their volunteer network.
“My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you always ask for help,” says Joe. “Often times we assume people are too busy or have too many other things in their life. But how many people would be willing to step forward for our cause if we just asked? Most people want to help. They’re simply waiting for an invitation.”