Enote 75 – What's in a Gift

January 01, 2012

About Gifts:

One of the very fine things about our work is the diverse and generous people who have contacted us over the years. In monetary value single gifts from individuals have ranged from five dollars to over seventeen thousand dollars, but every gift comes, no matter its monetary value, with its own unique value to us. Liz and I were reflecting the other day about those gifts we have received over the years, and we thought it would be a good idea to let you in on our reminiscences.

One touching gift was given in memory of a dying woman, by her care giver, who said that her patient had always regretted that she had been unable to complete her education. The care giver herself understood that very well because she also had to interrupt her education to help her parents.

Another person regularly gives to us instead of giving to his relatives for Christmas, saying they had enough things already.Gordon and Barbara Riggs

I was especially pleased to note that I received a gift from my oldest friend. I have known him since we were kids in Kittery, some 70 years ago. Apparently I still have not offended him. He tells me he occasionally drives to New Hampshire to help his older brother who is now 93.

Sometimes I am proud as when I finally receive a gift from an organization which I have been courting for a few years. Other times I am deeply humbled as when a couple of very modest means gives us one thousand dollars every year on a continuing basis.

One of the very important gifts I receive is one I have mentioned before. It is a gift from a refugee family we helped several years ago with their education. Now they are doing well in Thailand and have donated to us for the last few years. This year we got another donation from a refugee who has now resettled in the United States.

Another gift this year was a complete surprise and a bit humiliating. I got an email from someone who wanted to know how to best deliver his -as I read it- $5 gift to receive tax credit for this year. I thought it a little strange, and wrote him back prehaps a little flippantly, only to discover the gift wasn't for $5 it was for $5K!

We've received gifts from family foundations some simply motivated to do good, some in memory of persons who died too young, some to give their children a means to do good in the world. We received a gift from a school who encouraged their students to find a good cause on the internet, another from a teacher's union, and another in honor of high school teachers.

We were very concerned this year about continuing our work in the face of the severe economic situation we find in our country, but all of you came through for us and the refugees we serve.

We are deeply grateful.

A new visitor:

January 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of our first trip to visit the Karen refugees from Burma. Now we are happy to say Russell Brackett, our eldest son, is planning to visit us for one week this February. He will learn of our friendships, working partnerships, and the complexities of two separate cultures working toward a common goal. He will see our respect and love for these nobel people.

It's going to be a very busy week. We plan on visiting about a dozen project directors and refugee leaders spread over a distance of about 400 miles. We will try to explain relationships built up over twenty years, the beauty of aid in a time and at a place of desperate need, the passion of our life. We also hope to bring Chris, who lives in Chiang Mai, and Russ together so that Russ may learn Chris' important views on the projects.

You may already know that while BREF is organized as a Public Charity, we have always been interested in the participation of our sons and daughter in our work, and have hoped that when the time comes, they will be able to assume leadership of BREF. We see this as the first step in a process of Russ' continuing involvement in our work.


  • Creating new application forms for study grants and scholarships.
  • Working out schedule for the Thailand and India trips, including Russell's very busy week.
  • Sending reminder letters to complete our fundraising campaign.
  • Acknowledging your generous contributions.
  • Preparing for departure to Asia on Jan. 9.

Thank you and Best Wishes for a wonderrful New Year,

Your day is not finished until you've done someone a favor.