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LETTER: A song for GF’s ‘unsung hero’ of philanthropy

GRAND FORKS — I think the community should know the contributions of a very quiet, modest, unsung hero in our midst: Jim Holdman.

The tool of philanthropy has benefited Grand Forks immensely over the past few years like never before. Thanks to it, Choice Health and Fitness has been built, and many charities have realized greater annual revenues. I know of one organization that has quadrupled its annual income stream.

And a current Grand Forks City Council member who has his pulse on the community recently said, “Grand Folks is in love with philanthropy.”

In my view, this has come about largely because of Holdman, an experienced fund raiser of national stature.

Upon arriving in Grand Forks in 1995, Holdman immediate became involved in the community and has selflessly volunteered countless hours of his expertise to many nonprofits.

Citizens want to have public facilities and programs that will help them build healthier and richer lives. In society, there will be those who can compete and those who cannot. A healthy community takes care of those who are in need.

So, how do we address important needs without overburdening taxpayers, who already are struggling financially in many cases?

Philanthropy is a tool that lets those who have been fortunate in society work with local charities in the process of intergenerational transfer to hand more to their children and the community and significantly less to the federal government. It becomes a win-win situation.

It is Holdman who introduced the gift of philanthropy like no one before him and why so many worthy nonprofit organizations have boosted their services.

As a member of the team that worked to build Choice Health and Fitness, I experienced firsthand Holdman’s guidance and inspiration, which were essential to completing a successful community asset.

As a result of Holdman’s contributions, thousands upon thousands of residents will lead healthier and happier lives.

Perhaps no one in my life has served as such a great mentor as Holdman. I am sure there are many others who feel the same.

Thank you, Jim.

John Staley

Staley retired last year after 39 years with the Grand Forks Park District, 16 of those years as the district’s director.