Holt to leave Harrison Rec director’s post after 21 years

Paula Holt

Paula Holt

By Wayne E. Rivet
Staff Writer
HARRISON — For the past 21 years, Paula Holt’s goal has never changed.
She wanted to create the best recreation program for her town, and give children a fun and learning experience.
Later this month, Holt will turn the program over to someone else, who will bring the same drive and desire she has put forth for over two decades.
Holt informed Harrison Town Manager Bud Finch last week that she will resign as Recreation Director effective Friday, Aug. 26.
“I — for one — am sure and expect many of her fans in our age bracket recognize two very important points. First and foremost, Paula has built a recreation program from the ground up that far exceeds what towns our size can even imagine,” Finch said in his weekly update. “Secondly, her desire to have more time for herself and her own family is understandable.”
Finch added, “I had hoped (the letter of resignation) would not come before my time here was up as I know how difficult it will be to fill those big shoes.”
Leaving was a very difficult decision, Holt said, but one she is very comfortable with after great consideration.
“I feel like I have been running, and many times sprinting for 21 years, trying to build a Recreation Department that offers a wide variety of quality programs for residents and visitors of all ages,” she said. “The entire 21 years have been an extremely rewarding experience in so many ways with each and every program, special event and activity that I offered. However, my summer day camp ranks at the top as the absolute most rewarding experience ever! A comprehensive program that I built from the ground up and that has positively impacted so many children, young adolescents and adults. I don’t like the term ‘day care’ as some folks may call it. I hate that term. I call it ‘Educational Recess,’ where children come together under the instruction, guidance and supervision of talented, knowledgeable staff and learn life skills from a variety of activities offered in a safe and positive environment. A place where a child can unleash his or her talents and at the same time discover new ones. It’s a model program that other towns should try and emulate. It’s a win-win all the way around and the benefits are endless for years to come.”
A talented and caring staff enabled Holt to grow the summer program into a first-rate operation.
“My staff obviously does watch them and cares for the safety of each child, but also teaches children life skills such as swimming, art, reading, nutrition, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, sports and games using their own knowledge along with the resources and tools I provide them with. My goal is that after eight weeks, each child leaves with newly-learned skills they can use at home, in the great outdoors, in the gym, in the academic classroom and beyond. Also, at the same time, they learn and acquire character-building skills such as hard work, team work, respect, cooperation and good sportsmanship,” she said. “The Town of Harrison taxpayers have and continue to financially support this program beyond my expectations, which also helps me to provide the tools and resources for my staff so they can strengthen the body, mind and spirit of each child who enrolls in the program. What a great way for a child to spend his or her summer vacation right in their own town and in a safe, positive and fun environment.”
Holt’s motto has always been “finish strong” for each and every program she has offered. After 21 years of leading Harrison’s recreation program she, too, is crossing a finish line “strong,” leaving Rec in a better place than when she arrived.
“The person with the right skill set that will replace me will have a turnkey operation as everything from forms, schedules, and a well-stocked inventory of equipment and supplies, in the proper location for all programs currently offered, are in place,” she said.
What’s next?
“It’s time for me to discover more about myself and my hidden talents. A time for me to slow down a bit and refocus on family, and even have more time to enjoy our natural world,” Holt said.
In her letter of resignation, Holt said, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve the residents of Harrison as Recreation Director during the past 21 years. I must say it has been an extremely rewarding experience in so many ways, and a huge part of my life I will never forget.”

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