Volunteer Spotlight: Bari Yonkers, Ashford University Admissions Counselor
Bari Yonkers’ passion for the military, and for changing lives, extends far beyond her role as a Military Admissions Counselor for Ashford University.
In 2006, as Bari was ending a five-year stint as an NFL cheerleader for the Arizona Cardinals, she started a non-profit organization called Sweethearts for Soldiers to help raise morale and bring a touch of home to the brave men and women fighting for our freedom. The organization, which Bari co-founded with another former cheerleader and friend, provides entertainment overseas and stateside, produces an annual charity troop calendar, creates Sweet’n Your Day Gift Baskets for female troops and offers cheer clinics for military youth.
“The inspiration to start the charity came from having participated in troop entertainment tours and getting to see how the troops lived and worked overseas, and how their lives were impacted,” said Bari.
So far, Sweethearts for Soldiers has performed in Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq as well as several locations in the United States.
“Experiencing a third world country and seeing their reality first-hand humbles you. It makes you more appreciative of what you have and makes you think about what you can do to help others,” said Bari.
As Bari began to look for more ways to help others, she found Voices for Children, an organization that transforms the lives of abused children in San Diego County by providing them with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). Bari became a CASA for an eight-year-old girl in foster care about seven months ago. Besides advocating for the girl’s best interest in court, Bari makes sure she is doing well in school and that her needs are being met.
“I read her court reports and I see what she has been through and it really makes me appreciate what I had growing up. I hope I can help make her future a little brighter,” said Bari, who will be the little girl’s CASA until she is adopted.