A passion to help
Peggy Fries, executive director of Desert Sanctuary/Haley House, was born in Portland Oregon. Her father was in the Air Force so her family traveled some.
Her mom was a homemaker and a wonderful mother. Her dad had a career in electronics and was an electronic and mechanical engineer for Tektronix in Beaverton, Ore. He was also an EEO administrator. Both of her parents were life masters in the American Contract Bridge League. Fries and her three sisters learned to count through a deck of cards.
Fries graduated high school in her home town of Hillsboro and attended classes at Portland State in business management. She has been in business management since she was 22, managing for-profit businesses. She was the manager of Beacon Bowl for 22 years.
“I began in the non-profit sector 13 years ago,” Fries said. “I had never heard of nonprofit. I would have defined that as failure, until I learned by becoming the Executive Director of Desert Sanctuary/Haley House, and I love everything about what we do.”
Fries has two beautiful daughters, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. For the past two years, Fries had the best fortune to be married to Don Turner.
“He provides the balance I needed in my life,” Fries said. “Except the football. He is always supportive and always understands my crazy schedule. He is always excited when I come home. He always thinks I am the greatest cook in the world. He thinks I am beautiful. It does not get better than that.”
Q: Why did you move to Barstow?
A: In 1976, I was having health problems, and the doctors suggested the dryer climate. I moved here as the co-manager of Beacon Bowl and was the General Manager in 1977. My daughters were four and seven. It was quite a shock coming from the many shades of green in Oregon to the many shades of brown in the desert, but it did not take me too long to learn that the sky was supposed to be blue. I did not know that, coming from Portland, and I love the big blue sky here. It turns out that the many shades of brown contain a world of color, history, life and pleasure and I have learned to absolutely love this desert, and this town.
Q: What is your passion?
A: Helping people. When people decide to make changes in their lives that provide a better path for themselves and their children, those changes are so exciting to have a part in. Those changes affect the entire community, and there can be no greater self satisfaction to me than to see that happen.
Q: Any hobbies?
A: I used to bowl, and I was better than average. I play a mean game of pool and I spend a lot of computer time. I love to garden, but don't care for flowers. If I put water to it, I want it to give me fruit or vegetables.
Q: Describe a special memory you have of Barstow.
A: There are so many, but the ones that will always touch me are the way the community came together for Baby Fae and for the Rudy Lara “Have a Heart for Rudy” fund raisers. When you need help, Barstow is exactly the right place to be.
Q: Tell us one thing that most people don't know about you.
A: Well, if I tell you, then everybody will know… OK, try this: My best ideas and solutions have come through dreams and in the shower.
Q: What are the top three issues facing the Barstow, and what's your take on them?
A: 1) The economy and how to meet the needs of the many people who need help. This is such a deep problem here because we all want to help, but sometimes we cause more need by enabling behaviors, poor choices or poor living conditions.
2) Limited resources. Barstow seems to be on the tail end of the funding and development food chain. We need to make our needs heard by elected officials and use our energy to better our community and our living conditions.
3) Finding the right leadership for our police and fire departments and supporting our City Council, Management and City Leadership. We need to focus on the positive and stop airing the negative on the front page and through social media.
Q: What person, living or from history, would you most like to have dinner with and why? What would you ask them?
A: President Lincoln. We share the same birthday, and I believe we share many other things. I would ask him what drove him toward social justice, and where he got the strength to keep fighting for it.
Q: Tell us about your faith.
A: I am not a religious person, but I am a very spiritual person. I know God exists and I believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. I believe I will be with them when my living is over. I always want to do the things that would be pleasing to God.
Q: Tell us about one place you would love to visit and why.
A: Everywhere I have not been in this country. I never understand people traveling overseas when there is so much to see here. I want to see Niagara Falls and Mount Rushmore. I want to see the changing leaves on the east coast, and I want to see the states I have not visited.
Q: Where do you get your values from?
A: My parents. My mother was a “professional mother” and my father was an amazing example for anyone. They were the best example of what is right.
Q: What's your favorite movie and why?
A: “An Unfinished Life.” Because it is a story of forgiveness and acceptance. A facebook post the other day said, “Holding on to resentments is allowing someone to live, rent free, in your head.” A lot can be learned from that.
Q: Tell us about your favorite thing about Barstow.
A: The people. This is a small town with a big-time heart. If we did not pull together, we would have been gone long ago.
Q: What is the ultimate issue facing the United States, and what's your take on it?
A: A divided government. I do not support anything radical. I believe party lines have become too much like Berlin Walls. We need to vote and make decisions from our hearts and brains and not because of any party affiliation. We cannot work together when we have built walls between us.
Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: The wonderful people I work with. We are so blessed with amazing staff, board and volunteers.
Q: What is your secret to living a happy, satisfying life?
A: I like me!
Q: What's your favorite guilty pleasure?
A: Playing slots on facebook.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I don't know what I will be doing, but I will be doing it in Barstow. If I am not too old, I will be finding ways to make our community better.
Q: How can readers get a hold of you?