Hall finds a new focus in retirement

When Judy Hall ’69 took early retirement from her job in 2005, she could have kicked back and taken life easy. Instead, she jumped into volunteer work in a big way.

When Judy Hall '69 took early retirement from her job in 2005, she could have kicked back and taken life easy. Instead, she jumped into volunteer work in a big way. Among her favorite causes are a family shelter in Manhattan (the Learning Independence for Family Empowerment Center or L.I.F.E.) and The Carpenter's Kids Program, an initiative benefitting orphaned children in Tanzania. Hall's church, St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City, supports both organizations.

At the time of her retirement, Hall was vice president of human resource services for General Reinsurance Corporation in Stamford, Conn., where she had worked for 37 years. "My life changed the day I left the office," Hall says. "My mission is to make a difference in somebody's life."

Most days of the week Hall is at the L.I.F.E. Center, which houses 95 families. Hall serves as the liaison between the facility and St. Bartholomew's, and last year she created a library for the shelter's residents. She raised the funds, purchased furniture and supplies and, with the help of other volunteers, set up St. Bart's for L.I.F.E. Library, which the residents can use every day.

When she's not busy at the center, Hall turns her attention to The Carpenter's Kids program. In a country ravaged by HIV and AIDS, thousands of Tanzanian children are orphaned and lack adequate nutrition and school supplies. The aim of the project is to keep the children in their home communities and out of orphanages. Donors provide the children with school uniforms and materials so they can attend primary school, where the students also receive a nutritious breakfast on school days.

Hall became involved with The Carpenter's Kids after she attended a presentation at her church, which sponsors 100 Tanzanian children. First she made a monetary commitment, but later she decided to take one of the program's yearly pilgrimages to Tanzania. She made her first trip in 2008 and was so moved that she returned this past August.

While in Tanzania, Hall and her colleagues visited several villages to distribute school uniforms, shoes, t-shirts and other gifts. They were welcomed by large crowds who gave them brightly colored cloths and other mementos. St. Bartholomew's is linked with the village of Mvumi Makulu, whose residents greeted the travelers with a parade. Hall, who was asked to ride in the parade, says, "All 100 of the Carpenters Kids lined the road on both sides and sang to us."

"It was quite moving," she says. "Once you go there, it's a life-changing trip. These people have nothing, but yet they always have smiles on their faces. People in the village take care of these kids." She says it was particularly gratifying to see how much healthier the children looked when she returned for her second visit this past summer.

Although travel conditions are challenging-food-borne illnesses, dilapidated vehicles and primitive bathroom facilities are typical- Hall is already looking forward to her next trip in 2010.

Hall not only volunteers in New York and abroad, but she uses some of her considerable energy working on behalf of the College. She served as the alumni chapter chair in New York City and is a past president of the Alumni Executive Council, having served from 1999-2007. She is currently a member of the College's Board of Trustees.

About the Author

Sharon Nanz ’09 is a freelance writer and an avid Masters swimmer. While at Roanoke, she majored in English and interned in the Office of Public Relations.

Related Stories