Hey, Spike! tells of Holly Erlichman’s visit to Uganda | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! tells of Holly Erlichman’s visit to Uganda

Miles F. Porter IV
Special to the Daily

Converts — religious or geographic — most often are the strongest advocates for change.

East Coast native Holly Erlichman moved out West, and it's highly unlikely she'll ever head back East to live permanently, now that she's spent a few years in Frisco.

Born in Lower Merion, a western suburb of Philadelphia, her family of her parents, Eileen and Richard, two brothers and two sisters and their families, still reside there.

One brother, Andy, is frequent visitor to Frisco and Vail.

Holly and Andy are those businesspersons you hear about who can live almost anyplace, performing their professional corporate duties online and with conference calls, with an occasional in-office visit and trips to meet face-to-face with clients.

With two decades in the corporate world, her resume stresses these personalized professional qualities: "An innovative, hands-on professional with 20 years of business experience including marketing, branding, strategy, business development, global solution design and delivery, product development, and project management." She has primarily focused on the talent acquisition industry, and stresses her entrepreneurialism and extensive experience playing key roles in building new business lines as well as her effectiveness in persuading others through her enthusiasm for good ideas and products.

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With a Bachelor of Arts degree earned at the University of Delaware in Newark and other subsequent education including a Talent Acquisition Strategist certification-Human Capital Institute, she most recently worked for Kelly Services as a vice president in global solutions selling solutions "to select global companies in the diversified conglomerate and automotive spaces."

Before that, she was with the Adecco Group's Pontoon division, as senior VP of global strategic services, The Bartech Group, as the sales and marketing VP, and the ACT-Group as VP of strategic management.

Among her early career moves, she was with Metro IT Consulting and Judge Technical Services.

Many of those positions required a lot of airline flights.

"There were many years when I was traveling weekly. I started traveling around 2002, and it continued until I stopped working full time in February. Early in my career, it was all US-based, an,d since 2011, it expanded to international locations, like Singapore, England, Belgium, Germany and Amsterdam," she said.

Hey, Spike! met Holly in Frisco a few years back.

This is her arrival story, and she's sticking to it:

"After a brief time in Denver, I learned what a hassle it was to get to the mountains and all the activities I like — so, when the house I was renting was sold, I decide to move up here."

"I literally picked Frisco on a map — it was closer to the airport than Breck and Vail and made for an easier airport trip when the weather was bad or when I had a 7 a.m. flight. So, on a Friday flight back to Denver, I started emailing people listed on VRBO — and, the next day, I had a place to live and have been here ever since," she comments.

One day, some months ago, she remarked about her desire to quit the corporate world, travel, "volunteer in the third world" and do some charity work at home — something she never had much time for during her corporate career.

Down in Denver, she was talking with a friend who knew of a charitable organization that could use some of her sales and marketing skills.

"So, last December, I met with my friend Yemane Gebre-Michael in Cherry Creek, who had left Ethiopia when he was 7, moved to Israel and then came to the U.S. He introduced me via email to his former roommate, David Mporampora, who started ChristAid International about 20 years ago," says Holly. "Yemane saw the potential for ChristAid, and so he pushed David to start a board of directors and then served on it for seven years.

"David and I started exchanging emails, and he introduced me to members of the U.S. board, based in Arvada, since he was in Uganda," she adds. "Though I'm not a Christian, I loved the work they were doing — helping educate poor children and care for the elderly in a small village in Kicuna, Uganda. David left Uganda toward the end of Idi Amin's reign, lived in Kenya and Nigeria and now has lived in Denver for 20 years."

After a few meetings and many email communications, she offered to donate a logo and website refresh to ChristAid. (www.christaidintl.org)

"I looked for local developers to work with, and chose Breckenridge's KL Creative Design and Kristy Lee Gogolen to provide the technical and creative support," she said. "In order to get the real picture to create the website, I realized I needed to get over there and experience it for myself. So, a few weeks later, I was headed to Uganda and meeting with David (now my dear friend) for what would be the most unique experience of my life."

Holly contacted Summit locals and gathered up unneeded shampoos, lotions, toiletries and other items to take with her, which proved to be most welcome.

Her impression of Uganda: "Wow. It was overwhelming — at times. Peaceful. Fun. Loving. Inspiring. Hopeful."

"The scenery was beautiful, but so is Summit," she said. "It was just different. I was there during their rainy season, so I got to see how much of a challenge the unpaved roads caused for commerce — even for the local banana harvester who had to transport his bananas on a bicycle in the deep mud.

"You can see the difference in the faces and actions of those that are not being helped and those that have been helped by ChristAid. There are hugs (which is not part of their culture but brought by David), huge smiles and so much gratitude that they now help others within their community."

With a population nearing 38 million and the size of Oregon, Uganda, considered a democracy, is a low-income country with a gross national income per capita of $680.

Holly learned that Ugandan parents, if they can get work, pay for food and education for their children above all else. There is no welfare or "no child left behind" program.

The family unit is quite interesting in Uganda. Women, who have aches and pains associated with aging, are often responsible for the care of their grandchildren. To supplement that support, some make crafts like baskets, jewelry, artwork, purses and more and receive just pennies per hour on the final product. Holly was amazed by the beauty of the craft, and knew how much we spent on such items in the U.S. So she brought home a suitcase full of these one-of-a-kind items and built a website to raise money to send back to the remarkable, hard-working women. (www.hollyerlichman.com)

Her trip was good for the Ugandans and ChristAid, and it was good for her.

The future for her: "For the past 10 months, I've been able to live some of my dreams — I hit the road for five weeks with no plan and then went to Africa and spent real time with people that appreciate the little things in life. I've been able to focus on me without distractions of corporate responsibilities. And, now I know that whatever I do, I want to be focused on helping others. People often help the young and old but overlook the group in between, and I want to help them. I believe in personal strength and want to help others discover theirs. I want to help empower our most underprivileged, which have the determination and initiative by providing them with mentorship, education/training and the opportunity to start sustainable businesses that can benefit the whole community. I've been getting input from lots of people, so I can narrow my focus and create a plan. This may be starting my own nonprofit or working with one that already exists. I don't have many answers yet. So, basically, I'm still a work in progress, but at least I have narrowed my direction — a little."

Miles F. Porter IV — nicknamed "Spike" — has been a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com.