Good People Doing Good Things: Juliet Holden, Epitome of Kindness

Juliet Holden

By Susan Hunt-Bradford, Healthy Planet Publisher

SHB: What is your occupation?

JH: Senior Director of Resource Development for Circle of Concern. I raise funds and tell our story. It’s my job to help people understand what we do and, more importantly, the people who are the reason our organization exists.

SHB: What is your personal philosophy?

JH: I was raised to think “you can always be nice.” And that’s a nice idea. But it’s evolved to become “you can always be nice, starting with being nice to yourself.” It’s the airline model – put on your own air before you help others. We do our best work for others when we are strong and able.

SHB: What are your hobbies if you have time for them?

JH: When I’m not working, I love to cook. And bake. And can jars of the best lemon chutney ever! It feeds me when I make food for people who aren’t used to home cooking … and they love it!

SHB: Why help others?

JH: How can we not? If I’ve been given gifts, I have to pass them along. That’s our purpose, what we are here to do. I’m lucky enough to have been able to make a life – a career – out of taking what I’m given and putting it to work for other people.

I would add, as well, that helping someone else just feels good. There’s a lot of truth to the idea that, when feeling sad, the best thing you can do is to lift someone else up.

SHB: Who inspires you?

JH: In general, I’m inspired by people with energy and with vision. I’m inspired by people who look at something and say, “I’m going to make that better!” And do!
And I have to add that I’m inspired by my mom’s strength, as well as my four sisters. Great minds and senses of humor are in their very DNA.

SHB: What does a normal day look like?

JH: My daily companion is my computer; I spent a lot of time writing grant requests, newsletter articles, community materials. The best days include agency tours and community presentations that bring more people into our Circle of friends. Outside of work, a normal day includes time with friends and family and a nice, long phone call with my out-of-town granddaughter. She delivers my sunshine!

SHB: How long have you been inspiring others?

JH: While I can’t vouch for inspiration that other people feel, I will say that I’ve tried to function in this world – warts and all – in a way that demonstrates that we all have inner potential for strength and growth. A number of years ago, I was the executive director of the SIDS and infant loss organization in North Texas. A woman who lost her daughter to SIDS has become a wonderful friend, in part, I think because we each showed the other that, simply, the sun keeps rising. She inspired me with her determination to keep breathing and taking each day as it came, despite drowning in grief. I inspired her, she says, to look outward to other people to carry even an ounce of her load when all she wanted to do was fold in on herself.

SHB: What have you learned in life about being a motivator?

JH: I’m smiling as I answer this, because there is no motivator so ineffective as a mom trying to get a teenager out of a warm bed on a cold school day; just ask my now-grown girls.
Seriously, though, it’s a fine – yet distinct – line between being a motivator and being in charge. Motivating is encouraging someone to use their own skill, experience, creativity and inspiration to accomplish the task at hand. Being in charge is telling someone what to do … and often how to do it. Ultimately, while either perspective might get the job done, the motivated individual is more likely to learn, grow and add value to the overall effort for the future.

SHB: Is there any achievement or contribution that you are most proud of.

JH: The proudest contributions I’ve made to this world are my daughters and my granddaughter. Bar none.
In my work life, I’ve been proud of longshot grant proposals that were funded to, among other things, staff a domestic violence crisis line, provide emergency assistance to families, fund the hiring of a therapist for families that have lost children. I am proud that, as the director of the SIDS organization, I led extensive training to medical professionals and childcare providers on safe sleep and other practices to reduce the risk of SIDS losses. Although anecdotal, over the years, it seemed that the local child fatality review team saw fewer deaths each month of infants in childcare and in sleep settings. I’m proud of providing engaging, effective training that may have saved lives and kept families whole.

SHB: What do you want us to know about Circle of Concern?

JH: Circle is a wonderful food pantry and social services agency that serves a 250 square mile swath of West County. We cover the Rockwood, Valley Park, Parkway and Kirkwood school district footprints plus the 63026 ZIP code in Fenton. We’re an established, 55-year-old organization. Besides food each month, we offer other programs to help stabilize low-income families, such as financial assistance, scholarships, holiday assistance and so much more.

I want readers of The Healthy Planet to know that by supporting Circle or any other nonprofit organization with funds, volunteer hours or in any other way, we are living up to our most basic purpose – to put our gifts to work for the good of others. In other words, as my current favorite quote says, “At the end of the day, we are all just walking each other home.”