Mike HolmesMike Holmes Endowment Fund
Captain Mike Holmes is many things—a decorated combat veteran, a retired professor, an actor, a history preservationist and above all else, a philanthropist. But the story of Mike Holmes and how he ended up in Auburn, California doesn’t begin with him.
Back in the 1850s, Mike’s great, great grandfather left Boston, Massachusetts and headed to California to strike it rich. While the Gold Rush didn’t pan out, California life did. His son, Oscar Fitzalan Seavey, followed him to California in 1870 after graduating from Harvard and settled down in Foresthill. There, Seavey became a teacher, the principal of “Forest Hill School,” and later a county superintendent, a position he held for four terms. During this time, he was instrumental in advancing the Placer County Board of Education system and establishing a curriculum that included reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, geography and history (prior to this, teachers decided their own curriculum). Today, Seavey’s educational contributions to the community are still well recognized and the Seavey Center in Rocklin is named in his honor.
Honor is a common theme that runs in the Holmes-Seavey family. Mike, himself, has accomplished quite a bit in his life, and like his great grandfather, he has helped not only in his county, but his country. His successful Navy career spanned intermittently over 30 years, in which time he was awarded several accolades, including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with combat “V”, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and a Gold Star on his Meritorious Service Medal. In between his service, Mike followed in his great grandfather’s footsteps and became an educator, teaching at multiple universities and high schools across California. For 12 years, he also gave his time to the Auburn City Council, serving two terms as mayor of Auburn. His contributions to Auburn did not go unnoticed and in 2014, he was awarded the Vernon Gould McCann Award, a prestigious honor in recognition of his continuous dedication to the Auburn community.
As a long-time public servant of Auburn, Mike naturally crossed paths with Placer Community Foundation several years ago when it was known originally as Auburn Community Foundation. His good friend Janice Forbes, PCF’s Founding Board Chair, introduced him and he never looked back. “Working with nonprofits is a passion,” said Mike. “It’s been amazing what PCF has accomplished and it’s really established itself as a leader in encouraging nonprofits and providing guidance to nonprofits.”
Mike’s appreciation of PCF’s work led him to make the Community Foundation a beneficiary in his estate plans. “There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing you are connecting with people who need help,” he said. “If you can give a person a hand or step in some way, you’ve got to try to help other people. I’m not a rich person, but I try to bring people together as much as I can to solve problems.”
While Mike is involved in several community outlets to address problems of today, he created the Mike Holmes Endowment Fund at PCF to address future problems of tomorrow. Performing arts in particular is something Mike has always appreciated and in addition to supporting them, he has taken up acting as a hobby. Most recently he performed in the crowd-pleasing musical, The Producers, a local production based on the 1968 film. While he modestly enjoys his time on stage, he noted he would rather see Placer County in the spotlight. “I want to see Placer County become more prominent on the world stage,” he said. “Placer County has a lot of assets not fully explored by those outside of the area.”
He explained he is trying to get the word out about everything Placer County has to offer, which is largely why he’s on the board of directors for the Placer County Visitors Bureau. As a history buff, Mike knows local history is not only interesting, but there is lasting value in preserving it and sharing it with others. As an example, Mike is working on an effort to build a monument commemorating more than 10,000 Chinese railroad workers who helped build America’s First Transcontinental Railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountain range 150 years ago. “Chinese workers who did a lot of it in the 1860s never got the recognition they deserved,” he said. Instead, they received discriminatory treatment and lower wages than their white counterparts. Now Mike is helping to right a wrong and give them the credit they deserve.
The construction of the railroad coincidentally took place in the same era Mike’s family came to California. Remembering his family’s past, local history and appreciating how it influences the present will always play an important role in Mike’s life. His family’s story in California may have begun over 150 years ago, but seven generations later, their story is still being written and through the Mike Holmes Endowment Fund, it will always be told.
P.O. Box 9207
Auburn, California 65604