Cook gives years of service to sorority, Toledo’s homeless

Waking up at 4 a.m., serving the homeless, driving to Bowling Green and cooking for an entire sorority is a typical day for Barbra Self.

Self, a cook for Pi Beta Phi at Bowling Green State University, came to the sorority in 1989 expecting a typical cooking job. What she found was so much more.

“This was the first house we had on campus and I’ve been with the Pi Phis ever since,” Self said.

While cooking daily for the Ohio Theta chapter of Pi Beta Phi, Self has bonded with hundreds of active members of the sorority throughout the years.

“It’s a wonderful job. I love it,” Self said. “I meet so many different people.”

Self has formed lasting relationships with several of the women, including an alumnus in Toledo whose daughter is now 21-years-old. She has also attended members’ weddings throughout the years.

Nothing makes Self more proud than when members follow her to downtown Toledo to share her other passion: Helping those in need.

“When my girls go to morning blessings with me to the soup kitchen, that is such an honor,” Self said.

Self is a member at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where she serves the homeless every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8 a.m., before driving to BGSU to cook for the entire Pi Phi chapter. Her husband, Mike, has been serving the church as the hospitality minister for over 35 years.

“When the new pastors came in, they just had a vision to help with the homeless and oppressed,” Self said.

Self has witnessed people facing situations such as eviction from their apartments and jail time. Recently she helped a woman who hadn’t been able to shower by giving her basic needs such as shampoo and extra food.

“I just felt so bad for her,” Self said. “It’s heart wrenching to see.”

Many chapter members go to the church’s soup kitchen before classes to help Self and the church staff out, receiving service hours for participating.

“It’s so rewarding,” Self said. “You feel like you’ve just done something to help everybody that you could.”

Just as much as she enjoys preparing and serving to the hungry and homeless people in Toledo, Self said she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but Pi Beta Phi.

“I’m a Pi Phi for life,” Self said. “I love Pi Phi.”


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