March 2019 Reflection

CFET came to life as the germ of an idea in October 2005. We gave birth to it in August 2007, and since then we have tended its growth with all the eagerness, trepidation and pride that any parent experiences about his or her child. The “we” that I refer to represents lots of very talented people, some who are still “tending,” but also some who have moved on to other commitments. One of those people, who has been on the board since the fall of 2011, is Bill Harden. Bill has stepped down from the board, but remains a strong supporter of our work.

When I think of Bill, I’m reminded of something I read recently by John Wesley, the inspiration of the Methodist branch of Christianity.  He defined generosity as


Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
— John Wesley, Letters of John Wesley


I cannot think of someone who embodies this picture of generosity more than Bill Harden. It’s hard to talk about Bill without talking about his amazing wife Jeannie, but this reflection is about Bill. (Apologies!).

There is almost no part of the CFET mission that has not been touched by the attentive, talented, wise and committed efforts of Bill Harden. Most recently, he has served as the Treasurer of the Board. This thankless task, typically, involves being the board member who always has to remind the rest of the board that their primary task is to make sure CFET is financially secure. In Bill’s case, he has also had to get involved in CFET’s book keeping in a way that he didn’t anticipate when he agreed to become the treasurer. He approached this role as he approaches everything: he taught himself what he needed to know, he asked questions where necessary, he sought feedback from the board, he did what needed to be done, and he didn’t complain about it. Thank you, Bill, for serving as our treasurer so responsibly and effectively.

Treasurer is only the latest role that Bill played at CFET.  Before he joined the board, Bill contributed arguably the most important facet of the retreat center at CFET. He built every bunk bed in the center.  There are 24 beds, 12 bunks. They are made of wood, and will withstand most natural disasters thrown at them. They could not be built off site, because we would never have been able to get them up the stairs, so Bill made the pieces at home, brought them to the center and assembled them in each room. This was in 2009. They continue to provide our guests with comfortable rests!  Thank you Bill for your considerable talents as a carpenter!

In addition to his talents as a carpenter, Bill has been our facilities manager, for lack of a better term. He deals with leaks in the ceiling, plumbing issues, ants(!), a snake in the basement, squirrels in the attic, and any number of small and large challenges that have appeared. He has either addressed the problem himself or been the person who waited, during the infamous windows, for the plumber, animal control officer, Verizon guy, etc.

Bill is not just good with his hands, but he started our Fair Trade coffee and chocolate sale, monthly, at Sacred Heart Church, raising money for CFET. He, with Jeannie, regularly facilitated discussions with our visitors around videos such as Poet of Poverty, the Story of Stuff, as well as their own work in fair trade.

This is by no means a complete list of all that Bill has done to contribute to the mission of CFET. We are thrilled that he will continue to be a volunteer at the CFET, but sad that his wisdom and gentle way will no longer serve the board of trustees. It is not possible to express adequately in words what Bill means for the Center for Environmental Transformation over the last 10 years. We wish him well in his new endeavors, and hope he knows how indelible are his many marks on the work and history of CFET.

Thank you, Bill, for doing all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

We love you and will always embrace you in our hearts!


Mark Doorley, Ph.D.

President Emeritus

The Center for Environmental Transformation