Jim Barker still holds fond memories of a long-ago whale-watching trip that hoisted anchor from Gloucester Harbor. When he was looking for a permanent place to live near the ocean, Jim rediscovered Cape Ann. “After a year of travelling around the East and West coasts and looking,” Jim recalled, “I realized that Gloucester might be exactly the place I was looking for.” He and his wife, Chris, have been happy to call Gloucester home now for many years. “It was a great decision!” Jim declared.
Together, Jim and Chris also made the decision to be actively involved in their new community. They engaged with enthusiasm and commitment, noting their good fortune to be able to live in “such a lovely, vibrant community.” Over the years, they have developed deep relationships with friends and strong connections with community organizations.
Gloucester “is the place” for urgent care
One of those organizations benefiting from their support has been Addison Gilbert Hospital. “When I first moved to Massachusetts from Indiana in 1978, a neighbor suggested Lahey Burlington as a first-rate medical organization, and I have been going there ever since,” Jim related. “In Gloucester, we recognized the need for a fine community hospital and became Addison Gilbert supporters.”
In 2017, the J.M.R. Barker Foundation made a transformational gift to Addison Gilbert Hospital, enabling the hospital to establish a much-needed urgent care facility for residents and visitors to Cape Ann. It is expected to open in Gloucester in 2018.
“Urgent care is a rapidly spreading approach to providing urgent but non-emergency care. It can offer a lower cost and more convenient location,” Jim explained. “But when you look at the map of where these facilities are located, they are all over the Boston area but none on Cape Ann.” That is why a local urgent care center — affiliated with Cape Ann’s community hospital and benefiting the entire community — caught their imaginations and earned their support.
“It makes tremendous sense to have a local urgent care center affiliated with Addison Gilbert and Lahey. It ensures common medical records, high-quality care and strong communication with primary care physicians and the hospitals, which for much of the Cape Ann medical community means the Lahey system. It seems like such a natural way to tie everything together,” Jim stated. Gloucester is “exactly the place” to locate a vital urgent care center.
The importance of giving
While often working quietly behind the scenes, Jim and Chris have been pleased to support numerous other Cape Ann charities such as The Open Door food pantry, Rockport Music and the Gloucester Education Foundation. Jim described the philanthropic philosophy his father passed on when establishing the family’s charitable foundation. “My father’s intent was to have his children — and, eventually, grandchildren — learn the importance of supporting worthy organizations in their communities,” he stated. “His rule was that you needed to become personally and significantly involved before you could support a grant to that organization.”
Cape Ann has become a beloved home to Jim and Chris. Their full-throttle support of its community hospital is a measure of their commitment to the area. “Both personally and for the tens of thousands of summer visitors on Cape Ann, it is comforting to have emergency and other kinds of care located close by, not 25-50 minutes away,” Jim said.
While honoring a deep respect for the community’s fishing heritage, Jim and Chris also welcome the new ways in which the city will flourish. They are very optimistic about Cape Ann’s future. In the meantime, Jim and Chris will continue to enjoy many of their favorite Gloucester activities that anchor them there, including walking on the beach, sailing, eating lobster and visiting farmers’ markets and music festivals. “These activities are quintessentially Gloucester,” Jim noted. “We are so happy to call Cape Ann home!”