Volunteer Spotlight – Holly Mitten

Posted on August 18

The South Yuba River Citizens League Board of Directors and Staff would like to sincerely thank all of the tremendous volunteers who help dedicate enormous amounts of time, skills, and enthusiasm to SYRCL’s mission.

Why were you inspired to become a SYRCL Volunteer?

While I had spent some time here visiting with friends, hiking & backpacking in the national forest in the past several years, I just made the permanent move to the area in January. I had always enjoyed the Film Festival, and I thought that volunteering to help with that would give me a chance to support the event, and to meet more of my new neighbors.

What moved you to become a SYRCL Board member?

I hadn’t planned to get involved at the Board level when I started to do my regular afternoon shift in the office after the Film Festival, but things were gearing up for the annual auction, and since I’d done this sort of an event before, I was asked to join that committee. As time went on, it seemed that my past non-profit board experience would complement the SYRCL Board, and I was asked to join. I’ve been on one or more non-profit board for more than 25 years, so I enjoy making a contribution in that way, and I also have had the chance to meet more local folks whose interests match mine.

What skills/history do you bring to the Board?

As a litigation attorney for more than 30 years, I’ve learned a lot about people and business. Since I managed my own law firm for half of that time, I understand the importance of the less than glamorous day-to-day demands of administration, which is part of the non-profit structure as well. I had the good fortune to learn about the challenges unique to non-profits in working with other organizations whose efforts ranged in scope from the operation of a small community park to the coordination of bookstores and docent activities at Ano Nuevo State Park.

Although I didn’t think I would like the fundraising aspects of being a board member, I came to really enjoy it once I understood that I was giving people the chance to make a difference and help a cause I feel is important. That certainly describes how I feel about my board work with SYRCL.

What do you hope to accomplish as a board member?

In the current economic situation, non-profits have been especially challenged as all the sources of support have been reduced. Whether it’s a decrease in government grants or a reduction in membership, the shortfall means an already hard-worked staff has to try and do even more with less. SYRCL has felt this pinch, and what they have continued to accomplish even with this constraint is amazing. I hope I will be able to help strengthen the foundation already laid, and foster new alternatives to support the ongoing projects and the new initiatives that are the core of SYRCL’s mission.

What are the pros and cons of being on the board?

I feel that good stewardship of the organization is it’s own reward. Knowing that I have done something which has kept important work going (even if it’s paperwork) is gratifying. The business handled by the board is not so much about the mission of the organization, as it is about keeping the structure running so the mission can be accomplished. Reading financial statements, accessing staff support needs and bringing the organization to the community are essential even if these tasks seem mundane. I feel I’ve been part of a success story every time the organization reaches a milestone – and for me that is enough.

What is your favorite place in the Yuba Watershed?

I’ve spent many an hour in the Yuba watershed, hiking in wildflowers, sleeping under the stars and snowshoeing in powder. Having to pick just one place seems so limiting so I’ll just say that if any day I’m on the trail with my dogs, my favorite place is that trail!

What are your hobbies and interests?

I’ve loved the outdoors my whole life. I have been fortunate to spend time traveling in each of the 50 states, and enjoying their unique natural landscapes. Given the time, I’d rather be on the road – or the trail – camera & journal in hand.

I also love music of just about any description. I’ll admit a fondness for jazz and bluegrass, but I’m just as likely to be listening to Cajun or classical. All of the options for live music here in Nevada County are the perks of my relocation.

I have to admit I also love to cook, and my interests are eclectic there too. I’m pretty proud of my crawfish gumbo which my friends really enjoy. Mostly I just love to get to the farmers’ market, pick up what’s in season, and figure out dinner from there. It’s nice to have all of the choices for fresh local food I’ve found here.