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Karen Barker is honored by World Arts Foundation at its Martin Luther King Day celebration Jan. 20

 - Karen Barker was honored with a lifetime achievement award on Jan. 20 in Portland.

A lifetime of helping children succeed led to a Lifetime Achievement Award for Central Oregon resident Karen Barker. The World Arts Foundation presented her the honor at its Martin Luther King Day celebration Jan. 20 in Portland.

The award notes Barker's outstanding work in the community, exceptional contributions and long-term commitment and dedication to fostering positive change.

Barker, 67, now lives in Powell Butte with her husband. She taught in Portland Public Schools for 33 years before retiring in 2009. The following year she volunteered to help create the Maurice Lucas Foundation in the Portland area.

The nonprofit group provides education and recreation programs to help middle school students there succeed. Barker helped expand the foundation's focus to include high school and college students. She now works there part-time as its High School Program manager.

"I am humbled to receive such a distinguished award," said Barker. "I feel blessed to be part of an organization where I can share my passion of working with today's youth. I have faced challenges both personally and professionally but each one has strengthened me to be the person I am today. I still love mentoring, teaching and guiding kids. Winning this award would not have been possible without the trust and deepest respect from the Maurice Lucas Foundation."

Barker was nominated for the award by a former co-worker who was also a teacher and by the parent of a student involved with the Maurice Lucas Foundation. She was one of 13 people to receive the award at the 35th annual tribute, recognized as one of the largest community-based celebrations in the United States.

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