Barbara volunteering at the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT.

Barbara Sahagan used to put away ten dollars each week in her “safari fund.” It’s no wonder, then, that as she worked in a Pfizer lab for years to unlock treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, she sometimes ventured on trips to Africa.

A six-month stint as a Pfizer Health Fellow in rural Kenya testing people for HIV heightened her interest in global health.

Closer to home, she co-founded a network within Pfizer to open more educational and leadership opportunities for women at all levels of the company.

Retirement accelerated Barbara’s volunteerism — abroad and locally. “I like to feel that what I do has a purpose,” she said.

She headed to Uganda with the American Jewish World Service, joined the Community Foundation’s board and the grants committee of its Southeast Women & Girls Fund, rolled up her sleeves at the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut’s food pantry, and lent her energies to Safe Futures in its work to end domestic violence.

The common thread through her varied philanthropic interests? “Helping women to better their lives, take control of their lives, and be fully independent,” she said.

She created the Barbara G. Sahagan Legacy Fund at the Community Foundation to do just that — and more — for generations to come.

A Mystic resident, Barbara selected many of her favorite causes to receive grants from the fund after her lifetime. She has entrusted the Community Foundation to grant more dollars locally, aligning with her wishes to protect human rights, preserve the environment, empower women and youth, and advance social justice.

“All the advocacy work the Foundation is trying to foster in other organizations is just so important,” she said.