Hampden Couple Win National Peace Prize

       ELLEN BARFIELD and her husband, Dr. Larry Egbert, of the 800 block Powers Street in Hampden, were awarded the Wilton Peace Prize at a ceremony on January 14.

       The $1500 national prize, given annually to individuals and groups in recognition of their contributions to peace and human progress, is awarded by the Unitarian Universalist Association.

       Past recipients of this prestigious award include Senators Pat Schroeder and Lowell Weicker; Representatives Tom Andrews and Cynthia McKinney; and the Vietnam Veterans of America.

       Ms. Barfield and Dr. Egbert, both veterans of the armed services, are engaged in non-violent efforts to end war. For example, they spent New Year’s Eve 1999 at a demonstration protesting the use of an atom bomb test site in Nevada.

       The couple, who did not apply for the prize and were surprised to receive it, learned of the award this fall and received the prize money in advance, enabling Ms. Barfield to travel to Iraq to assist in repairing a bomb-damaged water treatment plant.

       Dr. Egbert, a Hopkins physician, has performed medical relief work in such international hot spots as Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Kosovo. He is a member of the Nobel Prize-winning organization called Doctors Without Borders. He also provides charitable medical assistance closer to home, including working with the Clearinghouse for a Healthy Community, aiding residents in East Baltimore neighborhoods.

       “I think that there’s an awful lot of work worth doing,” he said. “The question is, am I willing to be a little bit uncomfortable doing it?” He has persevered in his voluntarism, inspired by the example of others, like Baltimore’s Phil Berrigan, who have been willing to be far more uncomfortable. “You’ve got to keep a sense of humor and perspective about yourself,” he said, adding, “I was a little uncomfortable about the prize. By giving the prize, it sanctifies the recipient, and lets a lot of other people off the hook. If we were all doing these things, more problems would be solved.”

       Ms. Barfield is active with more than a dozen local, national and international social justice-related organizations. With a national group working to eliminate sanctions against Iraq, she has traveled to that country several times to provide relief.

       Ms. Barfield serves on the national board of the War Resisters League and co-chairs the national disarmament committee of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She is also a board member of the nonprofit Baltimore News Network, Inc. (BNN) and writes a quarterly column for its monthly newspaper, The Sentinel, which is distributed with the Baltimore Chronicle.

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This story was published on January 31, 2001.