A Forever Friendship
If I were with you now, I would tell you that I lost a very good friend recently. Her name is Ann Brackett, and she and her story are very special to me. My office at Doctors Care is named after her, thanks to her children who made a donation in her name, honoring her commitment to helping others.
Her husband Bill brought Ann and me together almost 18 years ago. Bill knew me from our common work with another nonprofit. Soon after I took over as executive director of Doctors Care, he felt compelled to bring us together. He knew I needed Ann and Ann needed me. Honestly, I needed Ann much more than Ann needed me but she never made me feel that way. I was tasked with running a nonprofit organization serving low-income vulnerable health care patients in need. The organization was in a financially fragile place and my focus was 100% on raising money to keep the doors open. I had just finished my master’s degree in Nonprofit Management, but was short on the experience necessary to implement strategy and run an administration. We were a small organization at the time, and the executive director did everything. I was in way over my head.
Ann stepped forward with a willingness to do whatever needed to be done. She developed HR policies, organized data and files, created messaging and helped write grants. Lots of variety and multi-tasking is a sweet spot for Ann. She made it possible for us to build infrastructure while at the same time raise money. She made survival possible. I called her a volunteer deputy director. Every nonprofit on the planet would have given their eyeteeth to have this kind of help. I receive a lot of credit for pulling Doctors Care out of a deep hole. The reality is I had someone special on the ground, lifting the organization and me out of a very difficult place. Doctors Care began to thrive.
Ann made me laugh. No frustration or problem was too big to first take a moment to laugh, and then tackle the job at hand. I have a photo on my desk of Ann and me laughing. I see it every day. It reminds me to be fearless, because that is how Ann lived her life – with gusto and fearlessness. I will always remember and be inspired by that.
When Ann told me she was moving from Colorado to Florida I was very sad. I thought I would struggle without her by my side. Soon, I realized she was still very much there for me by phone and email. Even today, I know she is always with me. I often ask myself, “What would Ann do?” The answer is, find the laughter, and then bite off just a little bit of the task. Ann did not waste time worrying about the size or difficulty of the job – she just started moving forward.
I am grateful to have such a wonderful mentor. The memories of our time together will always remain close to my heart. I am grateful to Bill for bringing us together. I am grateful to share our story of a forever friendship.
Bebe Kleinman, CEO