Honoring a friend by supporting CCL

Bill Betchart

Bill Betchart (second from left) lobbies Rep. Anna Eshoo in November 2017 with a team of fellow CCL volunteers.

Honoring a friend by supporting CCL

By Tim Dec

As many of you know, CCL puts high value on relationship. By relationship, I mean with our members of Congress, with editorial boards, with other partner groups, and even with those who might not agree with us. But for me, the most important relationships have been with other CCLers. It’s these relationships where I draw inspiration and support in this often challenging work.

I joined CCL when the Silicon Valley North chapter was founded almost five years ago along with a group of others, one of which was Bill Betchart. Tasha Reddy, who went on to become a co-lead of the chapter and is now CCL’s California state coordinator, invited Bill and me to an upcoming group start training. I did not know Bill at the time, but from that point on, both Bill and I were hooked on CCL.

Remembering Bill Betchart

Professionally, Bill was a water resources engineer most recently working in the Sacramento delta area of California. Bill’s wife, Margaret, was the owner of Betchart Expeditions, which specializes in natural history expeditions where Bill was “one of Margaret’s right hands.”  Between his professional work and his work and travels with Betchart Expeditions, he saw firsthand the challenges and impacts of a changing climate.

Without exception, Bill attended every chapter meeting, every CCL social event, and even helped with some major donor fundraising. So, Bill was always there and was a core member of our Silicon Valley North family. Though focused and diligent in his work with CCL, he was always up for some fun as shown in this photo at one of our early chapter socials.

Bill Betchart

Bill was a passionate supporter of CCL’s policy and approach, and he was a tireless liaison to our member of Congress, Representative Anna Eshoo. I was Bill’s roommate for all our June Lobby Day conferences, and Bill became a very dear friend. Bill so believed in the mission of CCL that he stayed involved and engaged even as he was fighting cancer—to the very end. He lost that fight in February of last year. Soon after his passing and as a result of his diligence and persistence, Rep. Anna Eshoo joined the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus.  

Honoring Bill with donations in his name

Bill Betchart

Bill and Lynda before lobby day June 2015

So when the donor opportunity was presented at the 2017 Northern California conference, I saw a perfect opportunity for those in my chapter who loved and cherished Bill as I did, to honor him. The idea that popped into my head was to ask members of my chapter if they would be willing to join together and pledge a $10,000 Generous Gentleman memorial contribution in the name of Bill Betchart. Beyond honoring Bill, I also realized that this was an effective way for those in my chapter who wanted to support our matching campaign but were not in a place to pledge the full $10,000 on their own. Even though asking for money is farther out of my comfort zone than anything I do with CCL, during the next conference break I went around to my fellow chapter members, asking for their support to collectively fund this memorial. The idea was so well received that by the end of the break I’m happy to say, we’d reached our goal.

I simply needed to let CCL’s Development Director Lynate Pettengill know the amounts pledged or retargeted, and by whom, and she handled everything else. I didn’t need to collect any money or even follow up with any of the supporters. Lynate handled everything beyond the “ask,” so it was incredibly easy. 

Building on success

Our memorial drive was so inspiring we are doing it again this year, but opening it up to allow 10 people by limiting the donation to $1000 each. We are also opening it up to those in other local chapters that knew Bill and those outside of CCL. I’ve decided to use personal emails to those who might be interested in supporting this campaign for this round, and everyone I have reached out to so far has said yes. A $1,000 pledge is still a sizable donation, so the pledge can be funded in installments throughout the year, if that’s helpful for you.

It was Bill that had me stepping up in a big way. For you it may be members of your chapter, or it may be your family: children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or great nieces and nephews (which has been my calling lately). Helping to fund CCL is a powerful way to amplify our work with the organization. Donating in a way in which we can honor others and provide matching funds makes it just that much more satisfying and effective.

Tim Dec is a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby in the Silicon Valley North Chapter.