In loving memory and celebration
of Debbie Matergia

Thank you for joining us as we celebrate and remember the life of our most ardent supporter, Deborah Matergia. Below is a letter from her son and Broadleaf co-founder, Michael Matergia, as well as a story that we believe encompasses Debbie's grace and generosity. 

In honor of Debbie's life and legacy, before her passing, she relayed her wishes that those wishing to celebrate her life consider donating to her favorite charity, Broadleaf.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of Broadleaf’s first and most passionate supporter - my mother, Debbie Matergia.

Equity was a guiding principle in my mother’s life. She was deeply bothered that some people have so much, while others have so little. She was quiet but committed and fierce in her compassion and empathy for others. Without fanfare, Debbie strove to assist those in need.

My mother is the moral compass in my life. From her, I learned compassion, empathy, generosity, and commitment. Most importantly though, she gave me the confidence to turn my anger at injustice into action. My mom supported Denna and me unconditionally when we decided to travel and work in India after college. When we began building the Makaibari Community Learning Centre she sent the first box of books. And when Broadleaf faced existential challenges, Debbie tenaciously insisted we pursue our goals.

I am struggling with an enormous void in my heart. But I find myself filling the time I would typically spend talking with her joyfully reflecting on the lives she touched. I will strive to honor mom in my actions and in working together with the rest of our team at Broadleaf and partners in India to promote quality education, health, and mental wellbeing in the Darjeeling Himalayas.

With eternal love and gratitude,

Michael Matergia

A lesser known aspect of her impact in the Darjeeling Himalayas, Debbie sponsored the educational opportunity for several students, ultimately changing their lives and the lives of their families, and future generations.

While teaching in Darjeeling, Denna sent Debbie photos of some of her most eager students. One of the pictures captured Debbie’s immediate attention: Yangle Tamang was sitting quietly enthralled by The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Debbie was touched by the photo of Yangle reading her sons’ favorite childhood book. She immediately knew that she wanted to foster the love of learning in this child. After discussing with Mike and Denna, Debbie decided to support Yangle’s enrollment in private school. Several years later, Debbie also helped enroll Yanju, Yangle’s younger sister, into the same private school.

For Yangle and Yanju, Debbie was family; she was not simply a woman sponsoring their educational opportunity. They wrote letters, facetimed, and shared stories with each other.

Yangle, Yanju, and their family shared a final message for Debbie

"Someone so special will never be forgotten. You touched and blessed our life in so many ways one could ever imagine. We are thankful and grateful. You are forever alive in our heart. May your heavenly soul rest in eternal peace."

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