Holly Richardson is a wife, mother, midwife, small business owner and political activist, also known as “Holly on the Hill.” She is currently the Utah Women and Education Initiative Coordinator at Utah Valley University and a Master’s degree student in a Professional Communication program at Southern Utah University.
She has also been an RN, a legislator, a marketing and communications director and social media consultant. Unquestionably, her biggest career has been being a mother to 24 children and now grandmother to six.
Holly loves to speak and write and loves to help others find and refine their own voices. Service is also a top priority. You can often find her volunteering at the local school, the food pantry, working with refugees or with international humanitarian projects, usually with one or more children in tow.
She also knows the value of self-care and is a big fan of pedicures and chocolate.
Philosophy in Parenting
Our philosophy in parenting centers on the belief that every child deserves a family. From our first adoption of two little girls from awful Romanian orphanages, we were committed to make as much difference as we could for as many children as we could, especially ones considered “hard to place.” We knew we couldn’t change the world but for 24 children, we could change their world.
We focus on giving our children a solid foundation – love, security, belief in God, a solid work ethic and helping our children live up to their full potential, no matter what that looks like.
Our family motto has been “Because I have been given much, I too must give.” In addition to giving our children a solid foundation, we have always believed it is important to give back. We engage them in serving others in our home, our community, our nation and our world.
How Being a Mother Has Impacted Me
Being a mother has unquestionably shaped me into the woman I am today. Strong-willed and vocal? I learned that advocating for my children. Some have disabilities. Some have black skin in a society that isn’t always welcoming. Some I had to fight like mad to navigate a bureaucratic morass of red tape just to bring them home.
Highest highs and lowest lows? Those moments in my life are also marked by motherhood. Watching children succeed, like graduating at the top of their class at Carnegie Mellon or starting their own families provide the highest highs. The soul-crushing sorrow of burying four daughters, the lowest lows.
A multi-tasking ninja? Of course I learned that being a mom to 24, 20 at home at our peak, and homeschooling to boot.
A strong work ethic? Being a mom taught me that, and it has been a joy to watch my children learn that as well.
Compassion? Empathy? Speaking up for the underdog? Learning to drive a bus or octuple recipes? Efficiency and working as a team? Loving unconditionally? All traits and attributes I have developed because I first became a mother. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
As parents, my husband and I we are determined to provide our children not only with safety, security and love, but also with the “soft skills” that enrich life – generosity, kindness, compassion, empathy, a strong work ethic and a desire to give back. No matter how busy I’ve been as a mother, I have always felt that it was important to be involved in activities beyond the walls of our own home. When we were adopting our children from around the world, we made humanitarian aid a part of every trip. Several sons chose international humanitarian projects for their Eagle Scout and one was able to deliver school kits in person. In addition to adoption, I have traveled internationally with several of our children specifically to do humanitarian work. Recently, I went with one of my young adult daughters to do work in Zambia with an organization aptly named “Mothers Without Borders.” We have had the opportunity to see first hand how blessed we are and how we truly have a moral imperative to help others.
My children have lived through circumstances I can barely imagine. Some of my children remember digging for food in the dump outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before they arrived at an orphanage. All the children we adopted internationally knew hunger and food insecurity. When we adopted them, we made sure that we always had plenty of food in the house. Several of the children hoarded food under their beds and in their
closets in case we ran out. Eventually, they came to believe us when we told them – and showed them – we would always have enough food. However, in our community, we have families who struggle right now with food insecurity and real hunger. In August 2016, a new food pantry opened in our area and I began volunteering, along with several of our children. It is a powerful reminder for all of us of what life used to be like.
We are blessed to be able to give back.
Finally, I have been involved in politics for the last 16 years. I had always voted but in late 2000, I got involved in changing a law in Utah even knowing we were up against powerful lobbying interests. With focused efforts spanning five legislative session, we were successful in passing a law that benefits mothers and babies in this state – the right for midwives to practice legally. I have stayed involved with politics ever since, from creating a political blog called “Holly on the Hill,” to being heavily involved in campaigns and even a stint in the Utah House of Representatives. All the while, I have involved my family. They have made candidate phone calls, placed yard signs and gone to political dinners. They are the kids in class that can name the Governor, our federal elected officials and our state Representative and Senator by name. They know how laws are passed and perhaps most importantly, they know they can have influence in that process.