After a long and successful thirty-five-year career in Minnesota with IBM, Bill and his wife Karen made the decision to retire in the Spooner area.
Following a period of attempting to complete a honey-do list, Bill set off to find himself volunteering. At the urging of his pastor, he joined Sue and Chuck Adams at the Washburn County Food Pantry and began to learn of needs of the area and of all the extra activities that they were engaged in.
Sometime later, his priest suggested that he get involved in a church-wide effort to help the less fortunate through personal interaction. The effort was called Good Samaritan and was successful, though limited in both scope and financial resources.
About the same time, Dawn Schliesmann started a group called the Washburn County chapter of the ICAA Coalition of Care. It is made up of over 50 county agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating poverty. They meet monthly and work to solve problems with the resources at hand. It’s first three goals were affordable housing, a place for homeless people to reside and a low-cost source of food.
Chuck and Bill pulled together a group of enthusiastic Christians that took on the case for what became Ruby’s Pantry, fulfilling the CoC’s first goal. It has been serving over 150 families a month for nearly 8 years now and going strong.
A county-wide version of Good Samaritan was being investigated, which would be fashioned after what 13 churches in Rice Lake had organized. It had the bread, resources and sustainability to take care of the entire city.
After several public meetings, discussions with several area churches and enlisting a number good volunteers, Washburn Christian Outreach was put in place to serve the entire Washburn County with emergency help. Now in its third year, the standalone organization has 14-member churches throughout the county supporting a board of directors and providing funding to keep 7 volunteers busy all year long helping those in need.
Bill is active in his parish, serving as Council President and guiding several projects, a member of Washburn County Emergency Food and Shelter organization, and a board member for Lakeland Family Resource Center, which with its revitalized board membership is going to bring fantastic change to lives of many families.
With all these programs in full swing and making a difference, the Holden's are leaving. Bill has had some health issues recently and both he and his wife decided now was the time to move back to Minnesota; Blooming Prairie to be exact, to be closer to their children, grandchildren and Mayo Clinic.
Bill has all to confidence in the many people he has come to know and who’s lives he has the pleasure to share, that the efforts in Washburn county will continue to grow and prosper.
He will be sorely missed by so many for his willing spirit, his generous nature, and his leadership skills.
Dawn Schliesmann says he's “pretty much a saint," and will "sadly miss" this man who spent so many of his retirement days helping and planning for others.
Even though he's leaving the area, you can be sure that he's not leaving his heart-felt desire to help and will soon find a way to help supply a need and then another need and another….
But he's the guy to do it.