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Kensington, California: Super Citizen Hosts Summer Outdoor Movies in her Backyard
by Michael Maltsev
She drives elderly neighbors to their doctor appointments. She invites families over for Sunday dinners. She shows movies in her backyard, inviting everyone and anyone. This San Diego native is the Mother Theresa of her little cul-de-sac neighborhood in Kensington. I don't think there's a person in our area that hasn't been touched by her kindness and her love and her care, said Zoa Winter, Barrett's neighbor, who has lived in Kensington on and off since 1945. I've never met anyone like her. Barrett is involved with community activities and also busies herself with her own philanthropies to better her neighborhood. She is the chairwoman of the Neighborhood Watch program, she organized a neighborhood electronic newsletter, and she runs the neighborhood's fire safe council. She has an open house party and bike ride every New Year's Day, she holds outdoor movie nights during the summer, she gets the neighborhood kids on a float in Kensington's Memorial Day parades, she throws ice cream socials and kids' talent shows, she takes care of people's pets while they're away, she brings food to nearby seniors, organizes block parties and makes sure every new resident is pleasantly greeted.Bev the name everyone calls her grew up in Hillcrest and graduated from San Diego High School. She retired five years ago after working in public education as a special education teacher, a high school principal and, lastly, a director of public personnel service. She raised four children and has been married to her husband, Terry Frey, for 11 years. They moved into their current house in Kensington 10 years ago.When Barrett steps into her front yard, neighbors walking their dogs stop to talk to her and children ask her if she can play with them. She's popular, lively and her neighbors want to voice their gratitude for her sacrifices. She is just the most loving, giving, big-hearted person I've ever met, said Winter. The whole neighborhood feels the same way. What may be the best thing about her? She's tirelessly modest. It's not really about us, it's the people in the neighborhood, Barrett said. If you need anything, they're always right there. She said the neighbors as a collective group are what make their neighborhood such a great place to live. Maybe I've instigated some things, but the neighbors carry them off, she said. Barrett said her neighbors are the heroes because they're the ones who donate, show up and help arrange activities and events. She doesn't take enough credit, said Frey, who is a biology professor and chair of the biology department at San Diego State University. If she wasn't here, nothing would happen. Barrett became the self-appointed chairwoman of the Neighborhood Watch program because no one else took the job. She designed a special greeting game for new residents, in which she surprises them with a plastic flamingo or a lawn fairy decoration and a welcoming letter. She makes black-eyed peas and greens every New Year's Day (which she got from her grandmother's southern tradition to bring in luck and money for the new year) and invites the whole neighborhood to feast. She even saved a neighbor's wife from choking, because she knows CPR and was able to get there before the ambulance.Barrett said she and Frey will never move away. It's such a great place to grow old, she said. We're entrenched. It's not only because of the couple's beautiful home which has a large backyard garden and two spacious balconies with a deep canyon view that would keep anyone from moving but they adore the friendly and caring vibe of the neighborhood. Barrett said there were neighbors who made sure the elderly residents had a place to go during the 2007 fires, and another neighbor leads Sunday morning bike rides for whoever wishes to join him. One neighbor once jumped multiple fences to save her grandson from being attacked by wasps.Barrett feels her neighborhood is unique because of the variety of ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. Although there are about 200 houses in her corner of Kensington, Barrett said there is only one way in and out of the neighborhood, so it stays separated from outside traffic.In front of Barrett's home is an herb garden that is helpfully labeled. It has a sign that tells passers-by to take whatever they'd like. She grows fruits and vegetables in the backyard and passes out the surplus produce to her neighbors. Barrett's garden is symbolic of her character: it is there for the neighbors' gain and ensures they won't leave empty-handed.If you pass on Barrett's Sunday dinner offer, she'll make sure you leave with a paper bag full of her plump, homegrown tomatoes. Then expect Frye to smile at you and say, That's just how she is with everyone. Amanda Strousesource-http://sandiegonewsroom.com/news/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36236:-beverly-barrett-kensingtons-super-citizen&catid=216:kensington&Itemid=241