Members of the Berkeley community describe Barbara Brust, a local advocate for homeless people, as fierce and bighearted, and since her recent breast cancer diagnosis, they have raised $19,000 in six days, as first reported by Berkeleyside.
Donations to fund her care and help turn her estate into a trust for Consider the Homeless continue to pour in and, as of press time, they have surpassed the original fundraising goal of $12,000 by more than $7,000, according to her GoFundMe page. Brust declined to comment on the campaign.
According to Marcia Bowlen, volunteer coordinator for Consider the Homeless, Brust founded the organization six years ago and has since launched fundraising campaigns and spearheaded food deliveries, currently feeding several hundred people every week.
Bowlen added that Brust consistently attends City Council meetings, voicing solutions and fighting for recognition of problems facing the unhoused community.
Additionally, First They Came for the Homeless volunteer Marcia Poole said Brust diligently checks on the welfare of the homeless community.
According to Poole, if someone was sick in the hospital, Brust would visit them, or if someone she knew was not in the area, she would track them down.
Poole added that Brust was always too busy taking care of others to take care of herself. Now, because Brust has stage 4 breast cancer, she cannot get around in her own home.
“It’s important for people to recognize the individuals who have been out serving the community in a caring and compassionate way,” Bowlen said. “Barbara is now in a position of needing help herself. … She doesn’t have the resources on her own to provide the help she needs.”
Paul Blake, a volunteer for Consider the Homeless, said there have recently been many devastating losses to the “tightknit” community fighting against homelessness. Consider the Homeless has high visibility primarily due to Brust’s presence, Blake added.
“(Homeless advocates are) dying like flies, and when Barbara goes, it will be the last of the leaders,” Poole said.