Gettin To Know ...

Gettin To Know ...


Janice Holmblad is the executive director of the non-profit Shepard's Center, where she helps to enrich our community in important ways. She is a long-time Oakton resident, and is this week's People Profile.

Years in the community: I have lived in Oakton for 22 years.

Family: My husband, John Holmblad, and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary next spring. Our daughter, Marielle, will graduate from Johns Hopkins University in 2006, majoring in international relations. Our son, Darren, will graduate from Oakton High School in 2006, and our daughter, Julianne, begins seventh grade at Franklin Middle School in September. I am fortunate that my parents and one of my five siblings live in Maryland.

Education: I received my bachelor of arts degree from Antioch College with an interdisciplinary major in individual and group behavior. My master of arts degree in clinical psychology is from Loyola College in Baltimore.

Current job: I am the executive director of the Shepherd's Center of Oakton-Vienna, a community-based interfaith non-profit providing programs and services by and for people over 50. Nineteen different congregations in Oakton and Vienna are part of our coalition and support us in many ways, including providing volunteers, space, and funds.

Achievements: I was honored that one of the Shepherd's Center volunteers nominated me to be featured in the People Profile series.

Activities/interests/hobbies: I have been a musician all my life. I hear music most of the time from the wind in the trees to the melodies in my head that soothe my soul. I play classical piano and find particular delight in those moments when my young students make their own musical discoveries. I love to read and have been in the same Vienna book club for 20 years.

I have been and continue to be an active volunteer in the public schools, my church and with American Field Service (AFS). Besides volunteering in school libraries and helping children learn how to read in the younger grades, I was pleased to bring the Junior Great Books program to Waples Mill Elementary School. I have been an Odyssey of the Mind coach — it was one of the hardest, most humbling, and gratifying volunteer experiences I have had. Over the years, I have challenged myself to learn and develop my computer skills, and I am now the editor of the Oakton High School PTSA newsletter. Through my work with AFS I have met and provided support to wonderful American host families and students from around the world who believe that possibilities for world peace will grow from mutual respect and understanding. My children have had their own world widened by their AFS sisters from Japan, Austria, and Thailand.

I am active in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, where I have been a lay leader in religious exploration, sing in the choir, and play handbells.

Favorite local restaurant or place: I very much miss the Coffee Caboodle where we purchased our coffee beans and unusual gifts. Lingering for conversation always reminded me of what is special about the small town feel of Vienna. I can make friends, slow down, and relax at the many different small shops throughout Vienna. I am enjoying getting to know the Italian Gourmet, where my beans have moved, and Pie Gourmet — yum.

Community Concerns: The "Baby Boom" generation is aging (whether or not we acknowledge this reality). Our society is ambivalent about how older adults fit into their community. By sheer numbers, this coming generation of retirees will have a significant impact on social security, community services, employment, neighborhoods, etc. How will our community accommodate this demographic change? As the director of the Shepherd's Center and as a member of the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, I have begun the process of inviting businesses, non-profits and other interested groups to learn about a new initiative, the Next Chapter, that is being used around the U.S. to provide information, identify existing programs, and develop ways of creatively addressing the challenges and opportunities from this change. Citizens can learn more about this issue by viewing "The Open Road," a documentary film produced at George Washington University, on WETA on Saturday, Aug. 27, or contacting the Shepherd's Center to find out about local screenings and community forum opportunities or to arrange your own screening and discussion group (we have DVD copies to lend).

Community hidden treasure: I can proudly say that the Shepherd's Center is the "hidden treasure" in our community. Our stimulating and varied classes at Adventures in Learning (bridge, Tai Chi, world affairs, art, history, health series, etc.), caregivers support group and retreats, quarterly luncheons with speaker and/or entertainment, and, most importantly, our volunteers, make the Shepherd's Center a unique place for people over 50 to meet, become involved, learn new things, and contribute to our community. These volunteers are your neighbors and friends. They drive people who can no longer drive themselves to the doctor, to go shopping or to the hair dresser, they install light bulbs, safety handrails, and ramps, they help with financial record keeping and bill paying, and make friendly calls to people living alone. They make it possible for someone to live in their own home for as long as they desire.

Personal goals: As I have learned about Civic Engagement initiatives to address the impact of aging baby boomers, I have been inspired to apply for a grant from the National Council on Aging. I hope that I will be able to provide leadership within our community to harness the energy, idealism, and creativity of older adults. I believe we all benefit from engaged citizens. Isolating people because of their age or physical limitations deprives everyone.