The basics: Jamie Barker, 56, is the founder and director of Dakota House -- a safe "home environment" for school-age children to retreat after school. She and her husband, Brad, live in Fresno. They have four children.
What she does: Barker is one of six staff members and a few volunteers who provide homework help, youth group events and movie days for children living in a central Fresno neighborhood with high crime rates.
"Our staff genuinely loves and enjoys our kids," Barker said.
While the organization is faith-based, Barker said the home doesn't operate like a church: "Our rule of thumb is just to love them and let them make up their own minds about God."
Barker said Dakota House, on Dakota Avenue east of Fruit Avenue, also serves neighborhood families with anything from helping a family move to delivering food to households in need.
Why she does it: "I love the kids," Barker said. "They are brave and funny and loving."
The turning point: Dakota House began in 1998 when Barker was working at a church in central Fresno. She saw a Fresno Police Department program that focused on organizing community members to help in high-crime areas.
"I fell in love with the kids and could see that they needed more support than what they were getting at home and at school," Barker said. "I sent out letters to see if I could get support to start a community center, and within a year my family moved into the Dakota neighborhood to live amongst and serve our new neighbors."
Details, details: Barker is a graduate student at Fresno State pursuing a degree in nonfiction writing. She said she wants to eventually teach a writing class in a state prison.
What others say: "She cares for the people she works with and stands up to the obstacles in their lives that have kept them from succeeding," said Tony Biasell, executive director for Calvin Crest Conferences, a Christian camp and conference center near Oakhurst. "I'm pretty impressed with her, both her vision and her tenacity to really be an advocate for kids."
How you can help: Call Dakota House at (559) 230-1622, visit dakotahouse.org or "like" their page on Facebook for details on how to make donations or volunteer.
-- Lindsey Jones