“Therese has as innate ability to positively impact those she comes into contact with, and that includes her connection to them through her film, The Final Gift and her book, Coffee Shop God. After she spoke at our 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. Additional comments included that the film and discussion were “breathtaking” and “powerful.” In general, we are better for having met her.” –Dr. Carrie L. Buist, University of North Carolina Wilmington "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,
"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
“The Final Gift is more than a movie, it is a paradigm-shifting experience that reaffirms the power of hope, forgiveness, and restoration to those of us whose lives have been affected by violence. The desire for vindictive retribution does little to address to complex forces that lead to violence and perpetuate cycles of recidivism. Therese’s story reminds us that the path to peace lies in the choice to seek meaning and purpose in our deepest moments of suffering.”
Dr. Cary Adkinson,
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice,
Fayetteville State University
"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,
Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of Hope and Humanity
“You tell a powerful story well - thank you for that."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
"The Final Gift is a gut-wrenchingly honest film. There are no easy answers here, no sugar coating, but it also avoids being over-dramatic or maudlin. It is a true story in the deepest sense—not just factual, but capturing the truth of the damage done by a particular murder in the life of a particular woman and her family, and more than a glimpse of her own road to healing. Therese and her film have a lot to teach us if we are willing to learn."
Rotary World Peace Fellow, speaker, writer, singer-songwriter
“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 felt her pain as well as her family’s struggles to have answers to Steve’s untimely death. I quickly 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
“A beautiful story of a family that is forever changed by one senseless and violent act- and a sister that pulls herself out of the darkest tragedy to find that light in the most unexpected place.”
Elizabeth Wexler Watson,
North Carolina Victims’ Assistance Network
“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
“The way you tell your story is extremely personal, emotional and private and through that, you manage to convey that we are all human beings in a world together and we all live our lives so often disconnected from one another...you manage to connect your life to the lives of other victims, to mine as a non-victim. You connect your life to your family, although they were not part of the same path, and to Karl as an offender – Then you connect the life of Karl somehow to us all. Through it, you empowered yourself and now work to empower others. What an achievement.”
Servicebüro für Täter-Opfer-Ausgleich und Konfliktschlichtung
(Service Office for Victim-Offender Mediation and Compensation, Germany)
“The Final Gift is a real, raw, and powerful portrait of a crime victim/survivor striving to make sense and meaning in the long-term aftermath of the death of her brother. This film, which holds nothing back, is an intimate glimpse into the complex journey through grief of Therese Bartholomew and her family. It is also a glimpse into the very different ways in which different family members heal and move on from the sometimes overpowering trauma of violence and violation. But it is mostly a powerful portrait of the triumph of this victim/survivor, as she finds her own uniquely effective ways of healing from the devastating loss. From facing, head-on, the full effects of her grief, to getting a graduate degree in criminal justice, to initiating this film, and – finally – to meeting and talking face-to-face – in the prison – with the man who killed her brother. Most of us are fortunate enough never to have to think about living in the aftermath of the murder of a loved one, and yet violent crime is occurring all around us every day. Therese Bartholomew lets us in on the secret and terrible agonies as well as the tiny triumphs that follow such events. We are fortunate, indeed, that she found the courage to share her story with us in this way. This is a documentary film of extraordinary importance, dimension, and scope. It is, in fact, a gift to us.” Jon Wilson, Director JUST Alternatives, Brooklin Maine “As a social worker who works with domestic violence offenders, I was a little jaded when I went to see the film. I didn't expect the huge impact it had on me - almost a physical blow… it wasn’t a sensational journey, but a real, naked process with no nice, clean, “Lifetime” ending.”
The Be There Group/Impact, North Carolina
“This story truly does add the word HOPE to a person’s vocabulary.”
Wild Goose Festival attendee
"The Final Gift' was an intimate, courageous, compassionate film. When we showed it at Princeton University, people couldn't stop talking about the film and I truly believe it sparked a larger interest in restorative justice. Thank you for inspiring us to imagine what we can do with our lives"