When Maggie Barket was born with Down syndrome five years ago, her mother, Mary Kay, sought all the supportive organizations she could find.
Not only did she seek their help, however; she offered them some of her own.
“After you have a child with Down syndrome, you look for resources,” Mary Kay Barket said. “You want to support their causes and you’re looking for information to help your child as well. It’s both.”
Barket, of Manhasset, soon joined the board of directors of the Association for Children with Down Syndrome and the Matthew Foundation, two Long Island-based nonprofit organizations that provide aid for those with the disorder.
Her service for the organizations is just part of the philanthropic and professional work for which Barket was recognized alongside other women last Monday at the Nassau County Legislature’s “Women of Distinction Awards.”
“Mary Kay is a perfect example of a woman who balances a professional life with a dedication to worthy causes and a tireless commitment to her family,” Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello said. “She is a role model for all, most especially young women who wonder if they can have a family and pursue their professional ambitions.”
Barket grew up in New Orleans in a Catholic family of 10, she said.
“Both of my parents did volunteer work,” she said. “They sat on a lot of committees. They had a desire to help others that are not as fortunate. I’ve been very blessed with family.”
In 1996, she moved to New York City, where she worked in the insurance industry, she said.
Since 2006 she has run her own consulting company, MK Risk Solutions, which allows her to work part-time.
“What I focus on now is reinsurance,” she said. “Insurance of insurance companies. My specialty is medical professional liability. When doctors or hospitals get sued, we ensure them.”
Barket and her husband, Bruce, moved to Manhasset 14 years ago. The couple are raising three girls and one boy, who range in age from 4 to 11.
Barket said she still finds time to do community work.
“Some days I have it together and sometimes I feel like losing my mind,” she said. “It depends on the day.”
In addition to her work for the Down syndrome support organizations, Barket serves on the executive board of Our Lady of Grace Montessori School in Manhasset.
She also volunteers with Best Buddies International, an organization that “pairs typical students with children with special needs so they have a buddy to do things with them for in-school as well as after school,” she said. “It helps adults with special needs find jobs.”
Her volunteer work extends further to Good Council and Sisters of Life, two organizations that help pregnant women in need of financial or other support.
She said she was “really surprised” when Nicolello informed her of the award.
“I don’t think I do anything out of the ordinary,” she said. “I was really humbled to be recognized.”
Most of all, she was glad her daughters had the opportunity to attend the award ceremony.
“It’s especially important for my daughters to see these great women, so dedicated, intelligent and hard working,” she said. “It’s good for my girls to see these great women.”