Upper Room celebrates supporters

COURTESY PHOTOAt right, Brenda Guggisberg, executive director of the Upper Room in Derry, stands with Kate and Matt Briggs, on hand to help dedicate a bench in memory of their mother, Marcia and also remember their father, Jack. The couple were longtime supporters of the Upper Room and its programs.

DERRY — The Upper Room has been awarded a $30,000 gift on behalf of late board members Marcia and Jack Briggs.

On Saturday, Nov. 16, close friends, family, board and staff gathered to dedicate a bench to The Upper Room, in honor of Marcia Briggs who passed this past September.

The bench is placed right next to the matching bench of her late husband Jack Briggs. The couple spent more than 30 years supporting the efforts of The Upper Room and many other organizations.

Serving on the board, as leaders, supporters, and idea makers, Marcia and Jack offered their time, love, resources and ideas, Upper Room staff said.

They supported the second executive director Kimberly Bavaro in her decisions to kick start the annual auction that has grown over the years. They were tender teachers, helping staff understand their own worth, and providing guidance when they felt it was needed.

“I remember when I had to do a speech at graduation, and was not familiar with how I sounded on a microphone and Jack came up to me after the ceremony and offered to do a public speaking workshop for all employees so we could have our voices heard,” said current Executive Director Brenda Guggisberg.

Marcia and Jack played a key role in the annual celebration of the TIPS program for many years dressing up as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus for the annual party and always available for agency and board functions, offering support, food, and their love and attention at these events.

Bavaro said the couple was loved and respected.

“You always felt like you were the only one in the world when speaking with Jack and Marcia, they listened, and made sure you knew they were paying attention," she said.

This sentiment runs deep within the culture of The Upper Room, staff said, with some senior staff being on board for up to 26 years and many feeling the deep impact the Briggs family made on a day to day basis.

With its teen center named the “Briggs Center” more than 10 years ago, the Upper Room board and staff dedicated spaces within its walls to honor board members, and the Briggs Center was dedicated to the love and care Marcia and Jack Briggs showered upon The Upper Room.

As a final act of her gifting, Marcia placed a small note to her children, just days before her passing, with a message that indicated a gift to the Upper Room, and the names of her two small grandchildren. 

“This donation is the largest donation we have ever received from anyone in this capacity,” said Guggisberg. “And we will make sure we take the time and prudence to honor this gift, to honor the people who made this happen, and to use this in the fashion they hoped it would be used, to support young families. I will share that the staff, and board of directors are very grateful for the decades of support the Briggs Family has offered, and for this final gift of the heart, we are blessed."

To learn more about The Upper Room, please visit URteachers.org.

 

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