Local Barbara Stitzer catches up with Anthem’s Holly Matson
Local Barbara Stitzer catches up with Anthem’s Holly Matson.
Anthem Community Council president and owner of the PR firm Matson Solutions, Holly Matson takes the adage “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” a little further than you’d expect. This beautiful, involved-to-the-gills woman plants the seeds, grows the orchards, orders in sunlight, puts the farmers together with the giant conglomerations, and does profit shares. Somehow, she ends up making everyone involved feel as if they’re president of the company themselves.
It started when she was 16. Matson was raised from age 8 by her beloved grandparents and described her teenage self as a “nervous, geeky, stuttery kid who listened to Connie Francis and watched Lawrence Welk,” She was also a one of the town’s teen councilmembers and was asked one summer to lead the meetings while the leader went on vacation. “I was scared out of my mind,” she says, “but after the first meeting, I really liked the feeling of moving something forward. My grandparents gave me all of the pieces to be a leader: hang out with people that inspire you and make you better, be responsible, get good grades, be honest, have compassion–I just hadn’t had the opportunity to put them all together before that moment. Before that day, I didn’t think I had much of a voice. But I learned that day that not only did I have a voice but I also loved the responsibility of leadership. We have to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations so we can grow.”
And care she does. When her daughter, a straight-A student and captain of her high school basketball team, gave in to group pressure to try Adderall (an amphetamine usually taken by people diagnosed with ADHD) along with the rest of her team, the experience scared most of the girls enough to never do drugs again, but not all of them–one continued and died of an overdose. Matson never forgot it. In 2009, when Matson moved to Anthem, a petition about drugs was being circulated at the high school at about the same time that she was asked to join an anti-heroin task force. Instead of just signing the petition and putting down the pen, Matson realized that there might be an opportunity to affect change. And so the Anthem Drug Education Program was born.
“The Drug Program started as a glaring need in our community, became a community project, and has grown to include outstanding partners like Anthem Council, MCSO, Phoenix Police department, DVUSD, the Outlets, libraries, and churches,” she says.
In addition to her presidential seat on the Anthem Community Council, Matson is on the leadership team of Anthem Cares through Service, (ACTS). “I joined the team to be a part of an organization that inspires me to be better,” she says. “ACTS takes an interest in Anthem residents in need. We are provided the opportunity to meet the people that we are helping, not just donate money and walk away.”
Matson likes to say, “Don’t bring people down, don’t make people dark and dreary, and don’t waste people’s valuable time with negativity. Instead, add value, add passion, add energy, and compassion–be a light.” Holly Matson is definitely that light.
Barbara Stitzer has been a photographer and a writer for the past 20 years. An Anthem resident, she’s shot everything from fashion to raw ham and has written about everything from travel and restaurant reviews to converting a school bus to a viable place to live.