Eliana Berlfein’s legacy
By Lynate Pettengill
My friend and Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer extraordinaire Eliana Berlfein loved to tube down Boulder Creek just as much as I do: as in, A LOT. Eliana preferred slow, gentle floats, whereas I liked a little more speed and adventure. Our last float together in August 2018 was perfect by Eliana’s standards – somewhere between floating and just sitting in a tube on the water, with plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the creek, trees and mountains all around us. It turns out that was Eliana’s last time to tube down Boulder Creek. I’m beyond grateful it was exactly what she wanted.
Last October, Eliana started having unusual abdominal pain. When she went in to see the doctor, she got shocking news: Pancreatic cancer, and maybe only a few more weeks to live. There were no good treatment options, but Eliana chose to accept this unexpected turn of events with a most unexpected attitude. She felt like her 64 years walking around on this planet were quite sufficient. She was actually excited to see what this next adventure called death would be like, believing strongly that her soul would go on and that she would connect once again with loved ones passed. I hope when I come to the end of my life, I can do so with even half as much grace and acceptance as did Eliana.
Eliana’s CCL journey started slow and with much resistance. Eventually, though, she was lured in with a request to bake something for a Boulder CCL summer potluck. Her peach cobbler was a huge hit, and she started to attend our local meetings each month.
It was her sisters, Judy Berlfein and Davia Rivka, who found ways to keep her in the game. The Berlfein sisters are a competitive crew…
An example is the time Judy Berlfein and friends hosted a successful CCL scholarship breakfast fundraiser in Encinitas, CA. As a result, Eliana decided she would give it a try in Boulder, and hoped to surpass what Judy’s group had raised. She did manage to best her sister, three times over in fact, ending with almost $13,000 raised. This was the beginning of a string of successful fundraisers for scholarship money. Eliana had found her CCL niche.
So after receiving her cancer diagnosis, Eliana quickly went in to revise her will. First she took care of her beloved family, but then she chose to leave a gift of $15,000 to the Boulder group for future scholarships, worried that they might not be able to raise enough money without her. She also made a huge gift commitment to CCL’s national efforts. When the rest of her estate settles, Eliana will have donated over $200,000 to our climate solution work.
Toward the end of her time here on this earth, she and I had a beautiful, albeit super emotional talk. She let me know about her planned gift commitment, and she also said she would do whatever she could from the other side to help us implement a significant climate solution. We all have our beliefs around death, and none of us know for sure how this all shakes out at the end. But I have a feeling that Eliana is cheering us on, celebrating with us each time we take a significant step forward.
Thank you, my dear friend. I am so very grateful for all your CCL contributions and for all the beautiful memories from our many adventures together.
Lynate Pettengill is the Senior Development Director for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Citizens’ Climate Education. If you are interested in learning more about making a legacy gift commitment to CCL or CCE, please contact development @ citizensclimate.org.