Debbie Brennan: Making a Positive Impact

February 5, 2019

rotmOn a bookshelf near her front door, Debbie Brennan houses a trove of mementos and memories. Pictures of happy, smiling faces adorn the shelves, most of them snapshots from her daughters’ weddings and portraits of her four grandchildren. Further down is a shelf filled with an eclectic collection of books, from To Kill a Mockingbird to the latest from Madeline Albright. But one book tucked away at the end of the shelf is of particular interest.

“I used to babysit for a family friend who worked for IBM,” Debbie says, while pulling out the book about computers and their inner workings. “He’s the one who convinced me to go into computers.”

For the Sterling Court resident, that conversation would turn out to play a major part in her life and career. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from Marymount University in Virginia, Debbie went to trade school and trained to be a programmer. She worked as a COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) programmer for five years before transitioning into a sales position selling time on mainframes. When she moved to the Bay Area two decades ago, she worked as a bookkeeper before becoming a recruiter for EnCorps, a program dedicated to providing high quality math and science teachers to students throughout the country.

“That was my favorite,” Debbie says, referring to her time recruiting. “It combined everything I’d ever done and was very rewarding.”

The Louisville, Kentucky native has made a habit out of making a positive impact in other people’s lives. While living in Massachusetts, Debbie volunteered her time to start and run a support group for parents of special needs children. She

did it all over again when she moved to the Bay Area, providing parents with a support system they otherwise may not have had.

The pride she feels from starting the support groups is evident. “I’d say it’s one of my greatest legacies,” she says with a smile. “It helped a lot of people.”

These days, Debbie takes the most pride in her beautiful family. Three of her four daughters are local and visit her often, and she loves to talk about her three granddaughters and one grandson.

Though she’s only been a resident since this past August, Debbie has managed to settle in nicely to Sterling Court. “I came in totally cold. Didn’t know the area, didn’t know any people here,” she says. “But now I know more people, know what’s what.”

Living with neuropathy hasn’t slowed her down, either. Always a fan of the outdoors, Debbie ventures out to walk whenever she gets the chance. Burlingame Avenue and the Burlingame Public Library are two of her favorite destinations. “It helps that the area is very flat,” she says, laughing.

In her free time, Debbie enjoys the entertainment provided at Sterling Court, especially when a piano player takes center stage. She’s also found other residents who are living with neuropathy and plans to get together with them to talk and share experiences. It’s clear that she feels like she’s found a home.

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