YVC’s Biggest Fan
YVC’s biggest fan passed away unexpectedly last weekend.
Adele Hall believed fervently in the three things that make up YVC—youth, team and volunteerism. She devoted her life to empowering youth. She knew the strength in being part of a team. Her life epitomized the power of volunteerism.
Everyone who met Adele was drawn to her gracious enthusiasm. She made you feel valued. A perfect example is that our COO Tracy Hale told me that she is so glad she had the opportunity to tell Adele in one of their last conversations that Adele epitomized the Maya Angelou saying that “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
A side of Adele that wasn’t so commonly seen was her strategic brilliance and dogged determination. When I first thought about starting up some sort of youth volunteer program straight out of college in the fall of 1986, a number of people urged me to run the concept by Adele. They understood how helpful she would be in plotting strategy for my fledgling idea.
I had known Mrs. Hall while growing up in Kansas City, but it was awkward making that call asking for 30 minutes of her time to look over my measly one-page concept paper. The awkwardness disappeared quickly as she urged me to come on over to her house to chat. Little did I know that was to be the beginning of a 26-year friendship forged by a shared belief in young people and volunteerism.
Adele made this 23 year-old, wide-eyed young man feel like he could tap into the idealism of teens and that those teens would make a difference. Her well-founded and significant recommendations to me that day were done in such a friendly and non-threatening way. She changed the arc of YVC in that very first meeting by suggesting I consider partnering with some existing, credible organization. That was not easy advice for me to hear as a budding social entrepreneur wanting to start his own organization and be his own boss. Of course, Adele was right. Forging a partnership with the United Way Volunteer Center a few months later was a key step in bringing the dream to reality.
We continued strategizing like that right up until her untimely passing. YVC will miss Adele’s spot-on instinct.
What I personally will miss the most is her unwavering faith in my dream—a dream we worked to realize for over 26 years. A dream that teams of youth from all walks of life would have the opportunity to find the joy and power of serving. It is a dream that Adele had well before our meeting, of course, but she said nothing of the sort to me. She was “crazy for the idea” and wanted to “help in any way to make it happen.” Adele Hall knew that gloomy, fall Kansas day back in 1986 that she was empowering yet another youth volunteer to make a difference in this world. I am eternally grateful to Adele for that and committed to paying it forward for other young people through the program we both came to love so much—Youth Volunteer Corps.