This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Inspirational Speaker, Prominent Social Justice Activist, Filmmaker and Author who draws on her personal experience to take audiences on a journey of faith and unconditional forgiveness.
About Therese Bartholomew
Therese Bartholomew is an inspirational speaker and restorative educator who draws on her personal experience as “living justice” to create workshops for victims, offenders, and communities across the country. Her 2009 collection of essays, Coffee Shop God, offers a glimpse into the profound grief that arose when her younger brother was murdered. As a continuation of her journey to heal, she embarked on a mission to meet her brother’s killer behind bars. The Final Gift, documentary, directed by Bartholomew, follows her path to that meeting. This compelling story has garnered the support of universities, faith-based groups, departments of correction, and victims’ advocacy organizations and is fast becoming a catalyst for a national dialogue on restorative justice and forgiveness. Therese, a former high school dropout and teen mother, now holds a BA in English and MS in Criminal Justice from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. She is currently working on her second book and producing a social justice film on the topic of race and motherhood; both with expected release in spring 2014. Her writing has been
published in Emrys Journal, Iodine, Main Street Rag, The Charlotte Observer, Raising Our Voices, Sun Journal, and Compassion.
About the memoir, Coffee Shop God
Released in April 2009, her memoir, Coffee Shop God details her struggle to adjust in the weeks and months following her brother Steve’s untimely death. In this collection of essays, Bartholomew questions her spirituality in the midst of bond hearings, debilitating grief and a new marriage. As she heals, she strives to connect with the family she has left—the mother who always has a joke, the father who cannot show affection, the ex-drug-dealing brother who is now an evangelical Christian and the talking bird she inherits from her brother—while learning to forgive the young man who killed Steve. Pat MacEnulty, author of From May to December and The Language of Sharks, says, “Bartholomew’s poignant memoir is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes humorous and always brutally honest…The evocative rendering of her own grief makes for a moving and gripping read, but it is her irrepressible spirit of love, laughter and compassion that you will remember long after you’ve finished the book.” Coffee Shop God is the companion piece to The Final Gift, documentary – “the essays are the victim voice and the film, the survivor.”
About the documentary, The Final Gift
Completed in 2012, The Final Gift follows the filmmaker’s pursuit to find meaning in her life after her brother’s murder. Her vision for the film grew out grew out of her desire to meet and understand the killer. In December 2010, that meeting occurred and was filmed in a South Carolina prison. The meeting was the first victim offender dialogue involving a violent crime in South Carolina’s adult system. The film addresses universal ideas of forgiveness, redemption, as well as the larger societal questions – how do we make peace with crime, support the victims, and restore our communities? The documentary shows the impact of violence on a family and one survivor’s path to peace and healing. Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, calls The Final Gift “a remarkable journey…intimate in the telling, honest and brave and true.”
Prior Speaking Engagements Include:
Winston Salem State University: The Final Gift screening, forgiveness and justice discussion Tikkun Long Island, Healing Week Tour: Forgiveness and Justice Journey of Hope from Violence to Healing, Indiana Tour: Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty Month of Forgiveness, Greenville South Carolina Princeton University: The Final Gift screening, forgiveness and restorative justice discussion Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America, NYC: Restorative Justice, healing the wounds University of North Carolina Wilmington: The Final Gift screening and discussion Capital Restorative Justice Project: The Final Gift screening, a path to healing discussion Hope Lutheran Church, Maryland: The Final Gift screening, faith and forgiveness discussion Elon Law School: The Final Gift screening, Restorative Justice: the changing lens discussion North Carolina Victim’s Assistance Network Conference: The Final Gift screening and discussion New York City Bar Association: Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty Panel Discussion Riverside Church New York City: The Final Gift screening, faith and forgiveness discussion Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte: The Final Gift screening and discussion South Carolina Victims’ Rights Week Conference: Meeting my Brother’s Killer Duke University Amnesty International Annual Meeting: Restorative Justice Campbell University Law School: The Final Gift screening and discussion Johnson C. Smith University: Restorative Justice National Restorative Justice Conference: Meeting my Brother’s Killer Mecklenburg Ministries: Restorative Justice in Faith-Based Communities Capital Restorative Justice Annual Gathering: Restorative Justice Chapel of Christ the King: Faith and Forgiveness Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation Panel: Victims’ Voices on Healing and Justice University of the North Carolina Charlotte’s Victims’ Rights Week Panel: Journey to Heal Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center: Grief Johnston and Wales: Coffee Shop God in Discussion Myers Park Presbyterian Church: Faith and the Criminal Justice System Girl Scouts: Our Story, journaling our lives Florence Crittenton Services: Power in Voice Summit House: Power in Voice www.theresebartholomew.com 980.228.0240 www.thefinalgiftfilm.com
What people are saying…
“I had the opportunity to not only view "The Final Gift" but also to hear Therese tell her story and read her book "Coffee Shop God" during our recent conference. I was overwhelmed. After over 25 years of law enforcement one can become cynical and jaded. This experience restored my hope that there is a role for the criminal justice system to be a healing and restorative tool for those who have been victimized." ~ Captain Millard Shepherd, Forsyth County(NC) Sheriff's Office "Therese’s ease of relating with such plain-spun honesty, undeniable zeal for life, humor and creativity - in total - delivered such a powerful, meaningful message. Hope is such a valuable commodity, and it’s clear that Therese has it in spades.” ~ Rick Spreitzer, Clinical Counselor for Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center "After she spoke at our on-campus event people were contacting me to express that they couldn’t get her story out of their minds, that they wanted to learn more and become involved with restorative justice, and that her ability to share her story was not only brave, but inspirational and allowed others to begin their own journeys of healing and understanding." ~ Carrie Buist, PhD, Department of Sociology and Criminology, UNC Wilmington “Showing “The Final Gift” and reading “Coffee Shop God” was a sobering experience for the juveniles in detention. The youth were easily able to relate to the Bartholomew family and process their own feelings of victimization. Clients were also able to identify how their offenses have influenced the community as a whole, effects on the victims and families, as well as themselves and their own family. The film and book have inspired the youth and staff to take a more therapeutic approach to incarceration in hopes decreasing recidivism and rehabilitating juvenile offenders.” ~ Samantha Coleman CSAC, Substance Abuse Counselor Durham Youth Home “As a law enforcement officer for over 25 years, it is rare that I have seen anything positive come out of tragedies. As I watched Therese’s journey, I understood the intense healing she received from meeting his killer, and her choice to forgive him. My goal for life after retirement was to do something totally outside of dealing with people in any kind of ‘brokenness’. The impact of the film was so heavy… so much that I actually could see myself an advocate and facilitator for Restorative Justice.” ~ Sgt. Lori Ray, Durham Police Department Crisis Intervention, Victim Services Unit "Therese chose to use personal adversity to affect positive change in individuals and in the larger community. Her genuineness cannot be overlooked and will serve as inspiration for those far and near." ~ John P. Comer, Communities United
"Therese Bartholomew's gutsy journey after her brother's violent murder, from the depths of anger and despair to her
decision to become an outspoken advocate for restorative, rather than retributive, justice is truly inspiring. Her memoir, Coffee Shop God, and her film, "The Final Gift", are incredible testimonies to the transformative healing power of forgiveness. Therese is a treasure. Her book and film should be required reading in every criminal justice program and facility in the country!" ~ Melanie G. Snyder, author, Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of Hope and Humanity
"'The Final Gift' is not the least bit final in that its teaching will live on in your audience members. I know it will in me."
~ Sandra C. Sussman, Prison Teaching Initiative, Princeton University’s Pace Center for Civic Engagement
“This story truly does add the word HOPE to a person’s vocabulary.” ~ Lauren, Wild Goose Festival attendee
Greenville News: “Film Focuses on Woman’s Healing through Forgiveness,” Lillia Callum-Penso Today’s Charlotte Woman: “The Art of Restoration,” Allison Futterman
Restorative Justice on the Rise with host Molly Rowan Leach www.StarNewsonline.com “Final Gift” Gives Purpose to Victims of Crime, Cassie Foss The Seahawk: “Final Gift Restores Justice,” Hunter Houzer Current TV’s The War Room with Jennifer Granholm: Defining Forgiveness
The Crime Report: “Forgiving a Murderer,” Graham Kates WBAI 99.5FM’s Wake Up Call with Esther Armah: The Final Gift and Restorative Justice NPR’s The State of Things with Frank Stasio: Restorative Justice and The Final Gift NPR’s Morning Edition with Pam Bunch: The Final Gift Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins: Restorative Justice Charlotte Observer: “Thy Brother’s Killer,” Elizabeth Leland Raleigh Television Network’s The Artist’s Craft, Memoir Writing
For interviews, film screenings, speaking engagements or book signings, contact Douglas Bartholomew at ~ 980.228.0240 firstname.lastname@example.org Find in the membership directory for the National Association of Campus Activities Follow on @thefinalgift on Twitter Like on Facebook at The Final Gift ~ documentary