'Ordinary people doing ordinary stuff' results in hospital foundation's award

Judy and Cliff Bracher were honored with the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation Christmas Spirit Award at a ceremony Wednesday.<BR><I>EO file photo

The holiday season is a time for giving, but for Cliff and Judy Bracher - giving is a way of life.

Although the Brachers view their involvement in community service and helping their fellow man as completely natural, the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation recognized the Hermiston couple as extraordinary Wednesday afternoon when presenting them with the 2008 Christmas Spirit Award during an informal ceremony at Good Shepherd Medical Center.

"(Cliff and Judy) not only help others all year round, they do it year after year," said Sheri Lynn Miller, who nominated the couple for the award. "They're wonderful, wonderful people. They think that everything they do is just part of living in Eastern Oregon."

As Kelly Sanders, executive director of the foundation, read an extensive list of projects, organizations and fundraisers Brachers have been involved with, the couple responded humbly.

"We regard it as being ordinary folks doing ordinary stuff," Cliff said.

"Wow, that's just a great honor," Judy added.

Putting in countless hours over the years, Judy has participated in fundraising projects for the Hermiston Education Foundation and the Hermiston Festival of Trees. Also, she belongs to the local Philanthropic Educational Organization chapter - promoting educational opportunities for women.

During her career in education, Judy would take home lost and found coats at the end of the school year. Over the summer she would wash, mend and get them ready to provide to children who might not otherwise have a coat as the chill of winter set in.

Judy also was a longtime volunteer at the Western Trails Therapeutic Riding Center, helping children with special needs at the center's Ranch Ride and Children's Rodeo events.

Each August, Judy dons an apron and whips up breakfast for hard-working 4-H and FFA students and their families.

Cliff has served on the boards of the Hermiston School District, the Umatilla-Morrow Educational Service District, Pendleton Grain Growers, the Pendleton Round-Up's Happy Canyon Show and the Soil and Water Conservation District.

He's also been actively involved with the Umatilla County Fair, however, Cliff's giving spirit is evident to many people who have driven near Bracher Farms.

He's known as the "kindly gent" on Highway 37 - giving gas to strangers, providing water to thirsty bikers, pulling vehicles out of ditches and even chasing stray cows back to the pasture where they belong. Cliff, along with firefighters, neighbors and sons Randy and Paul, have fought wildfires for hours.

"These things, he thinks (and now his children believe) are part of a day's work because they help others," Sanders read from the award letter.

The spirit of giving is generational for the Brachers.

"I think we inherited it," Judy said.

"We grasped that idea, but it's been passed on. We see it in our children and grandchildren - we're very proud of them," Cliff added.

After Sanders showed the couple a plaque bearing the names of past recipients of the award, the Brachers were again humbled.

"That's something in itself," Cliff said.

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