In an area like ours, with loads of incredible non-profits, generous charitable givers, and dedicated volunteers, trying to choose just a few is impossible. Tom and Jill Barland not only have been (and continue to be) active with lots of them, but also represent something bigger. They’re proof that you don’t need millions of dollars to shape your community; anyone can make a difference. And they have, though not in the highly visible way that an LE Phillips or Ralph Owen could. Instead, their efforts have allowed numerous organizations to survive and offer invaluable services to our community.
Tom Barland is a long-time Eau Clarian who served in the State Assembly (1961-65) and was a Circuit Court Judge (1967-2000) and has been active with organizations since 1956, both at the local and state levels. When asked for a list of said organizations (which they were certain wasn’t complete), Jill turned to her husband to say, “Oh, Tom, you couldn’t even quantify that, could you?” Between the two of them they’ve donated their time and/or money to: Chippewa Valley Boys & Girls Club, Eau Claire Community Foundation, Feed My People Food Bank, Chippewa Valley Museum, Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, UWEC Alumni Association, Chippewa Valley Symphony Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Beaver Creek Reserve Foundation, Literacy Volunteers of the Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin Historical Society, Eau Claire Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, American Red Cross, Family Services Board, Boy Scout Council, and many more.
When Jill moved here in 1994 to work in human resources, she immediately got involved in the community. “I did a leadership conference through the Chamber of Commerce, and it exposed me to all the wonderful things going on in this community. Social services, government, non-profits, arts, entertainment – the whole piece,” she said. “That really informed me of how I’d spend my time … and whenever I’m asked, I try to serve and help in whatever way I can.”