Julie Kremer, Recipent, 2010 Excellence in Community Service Award
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Julie Kremer, Recipent, 2010 Excellence in Community Service Award

Director, Worldwide Communication & Culture

Have you ever thrown a pizza party for 300 people, in the middle of a blizzard, with one hour's notice? Arranged the flights, transfers, lodgings, meals, and apparel for 120 international guests from 30 countries? These are some of the feats Julie Kremer accomplishes during the normal course of her job as Grand Circle Corporation's Director of Worldwide Communication & Culture—a role whose job description might best be summed up as "go above and beyond, every day."

"I can't imagine this place without her, " says Martha Prybylo, Executive Vice-President of People & Culture. "And fortunately for us, she can't imagine the place without her!" On the job, Julie is widely known as a strong leader and a powerhouse of organization, creativity, and can-do efficiency. So you can imagine how impressive the results are when Julie steps outside the office and applies her considerable skills towards something she is truly passionate about: helping others.

"Julie Kremer has tremendous spirit and is the backbone of our community service program," says Maury Peterson, Vice President of Grand Circle Foundation. Over the nearly nine years Julie has worked at Grand Circle, she has involved herself in ALL of our community service events in some way, shape or form. That's over 200 events.

It's not just the quantity of community service and philanthropic events that has earned Julie the 2010 Excellence in Community Service Award – it's the quality of caring she brings to each task. "Julie is tremendously passionate, has very high standards, and is someone you can count on 100% of the time, 24/7," adds Martha. "She cares deeply about service, and is always seeking to add value to whatever we do."

Sometimes, adding value is simply a matter of bringing a personal touch – a bit of color, humor, poignancy, or style—to make an ordinary moment something quite memorable. After interviewing for her job here, Julie sent hand-written thank-you notes with inspirational quotes to everyone she met. When she organizes a company event or celebration, Julie is a slave to detail, so that every morsel, every bar of music, every bit of décor, every guest feels like part of the festivities.

Julie grew up in Detroit, Michigan and, after a couple of years in Wellesley, Massachusetts, moved with her family to suburban Lakewood, Ohio, where her parents instilled a flair for fun in each of their six children. "My parents were both copywriters at Hudson Department Store in Detroit when they met, and they found creative ways to make the most of things. Plus, my father had been a former priest, and he had a real empathy for people." As a result, limited means never prevented the Kremers from giving generously of themselves. "My dad always went out of his way to make you feel special."

The apple doesn't fall far…. In 2006, when Mrs. Kremer was dying of cancer, Julie and her sister, Joan, moved her to Boston so they could make her last months as comfortable as possible. A group of Julie's close Grand Circle friends arranged for a limo to drive her around the old neighborhood where she'd raised her family. "We took her to the pumpkin patch where we'd gone as kids." These small gestures meant the world to her – and to Julie, who thinks of her late mother when she volunteers with the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Mother's Day luncheon. "I love this event because you can give in so many ways – either by attending the luncheon and helping the guests, or contributing a baked good, or just helping to write out special Mother's Day cards," says Julie, who also remarked that the ladies are always delightful and deeply appreciative. "I just think, this is how you would want someone to treat your own mother if you couldn't be with her."

Julie is known as someone always willing to go the extra mile, and this was quite literally the case when she participated in the Cancer Community Renewal Project during her own free time. A trainer at Julie's gym, Fitness Unlimited of Milton, Massachusetts, developed the project. She wanted to offer free fitness training and massages for those recovering from cancer treatment. To raise money, Julie participated in a Spin-a-Thon in which members did a nonstop, three hour bike spinning class which raised over $20,000.

Julie has sorted cans for the Greater Boston Food Bank. She personally shopped for backpacks and school supplies to be given to under-privileged school children. She has organized the post-event celebration for volunteers in our Rebuilding Together Boston home renovation project. You can trace Julie's hand in everything we do. Sometimes, that hand is stretched out to give blood for local hospitals or dishing out a helping of apple pie for Community Servings, a local nonprofit that prepares and delivers meals to critically ill or homebound patients and their families.

And yes, Julie's hand might also be holding a scrub brush and scouring out a toilet, as she did when she helped a young family move from a shelter to their own home. It's part of the Up & Out program, the community service event Julie is most passionate about. "It brings together her love of service with her extreme passion with cleaning and organizing," said Martha Prybylo. "She has been known to take vacation days to clean and ready an apartment to give a homeless family a fresh start."

She's also known, according to her colleagues, for having "a heart as big as her smile"—and for being the first to step up and help in the name of community service. For being, as Maury says, "someone I always want on my team," we presented Julie with the Excellence in Community Service award in 2010.

In accepting the award, which includes a plaque and a gift of $1500 that Julie can donate to the charity of her choice, Julie thanked Alan and Harriet Lewis for creating such a fantastic culture of giving back. "The Up & Out program is near and dear to me. I have set up a special bank account and have asked my family that in lieu of gifts for my birthday or holidays, that they make a deposit into my Up & Out account. This has allowed me to purchase items for the families and outfit whole rooms. I am so thankful for the award and to work here. I have been with the company almost nine years and I am proud to walk into the building each and every day," Julie said.

Julie says that her favorite part of her job is the opportunity to rise to challenges like these every day. When asked what her greatest accomplishment has been since joining Grand Circle in 2002, she replies, "the person I've become."

Featured in our April 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.