Hall brings hope to troubled lives

Jan. 15, 2014 @ 08:35 PM

Whether they are without work, a home or someone to confide in, many Sanford residents in crisis have turned to Cindy Hall.

Taking the podium at this year’s first meeting of Sanford Jobseekers, Hall sought to connect with the crowd — emphasizing the role of networking, as well as faith, in the quest for employment.

“We’ll do everything we can to be of assistance to you,” Hall assured the group, which gathers weekly at First Baptist Church. “Our goal is to get everyone out of this room and back to work.”

That compassion and can-do attitude, friends and acquaintances say, are some of the qualities that make Hall such a valuable local citizen — and some of the many reasons she is deserving of The Herald’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Cindy is such a positive influence in the community,” said Fredrika Cooke, executive director of Family Promise of Lee County — another organization with which Hall is affiliated. “And [she is] truly mission-focused on changing the lives of the less fortunate.”

Faith in action

Formerly a third-grade teacher, Hall “is one of the most caring people you’re going to meet in this entire community, period,” said Stephen Coble, administrator for Lee Christian School.

“She’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with,” Coble said, adding, “she lives her faith.” 

In her present position as minister of outreach and activities for First Baptist, Hall oversees offerings as diverse as exercise classes and an after-school program. But both on and off the job, she makes time to help people in trouble.

“Mainly my ministry is people walking into the church and needing someone to talk to,” Hall said. “I’m able to network with a lot of different people to try to find some solutions.”

She explained that Jobseekers started more than four years years ago, when more than 14 percent of Lee County was unemployed. She said average attendance hovers around 40 people, with “a couple thousand people” coming through the program since its inception and an average of three to four new job landings each week.

“It is such a joy when someone calls and says they have [gotten] a job,” she said in an emailed statement. “It makes all the hard work worth it.”

Surveying the full room at the last Jobseekers meeting, she said, “I would never have imagined how it has come together like this.”

Crystal McIver, human resources development coordinator with Central Carolina Community College, attributes much of that success to Hall

“I think Cindy’s very humble, and I think her knowledge about this area and ability to motivate people is essential to this program,” McIver said. “As it relates to the college, Cindy is very connected to employers; they trust her. We work extremely well as a team.”

Local counselor Sarah Courtright of Well Centered, another specialist who works with Jobseekers, is impressed by Hall’s “calm presence.”

“She is just a constant source of optimism,” Courtright said, “It takes away the isolation people tend to feel when they are unemployed. ... From sunup to sundown, she is a giver.”

Award ‘well deserved’

Hall also contributes time to Upward basketball and cheerleading, which she said started with 76 children and now has more than 400 participants — who develop their faith in addition to their sports skills. 

“It’s a program that not only teaches children how to cheer and play basketball, but also life values,” Hall said.

Hall’s community involvement extends to the No Scare Fair, which she has been involved with for several years, and the Sanford Pottery Festival — now the Arts and Vine Festival — for which she volunteers annually. She sits on the task force for the East Sanford Block Party, too, and said her beliefs drive her to serve.

“The reason I enjoy [community service] so much is because of my faith,” Hall said. “I think God has given me a love for people who are really struggling. I sometimes get discouraged, but God always lifts me up and says ‘keep going.’”

As the vice president of the board of Family Promise, Hall also aids homeless families. Hall noted that more than 25 churches are involved in the outreach, which not only provides a place to stay, but also addresses the factors contributing to a family’s homelessness.

According to Cooke, Hall is active in all of the agency’s fundraising, identifying volunteers and other aspects of the operation.

“I would probably say she is one of the biggest Family Promise cheerleaders in the county,” Cooke said. As for the award, she added, “it’s well deserved based on her work and her history in the community.”

Hall’s husband of 45 years, Dr. William Hall, said he is not surprised by the honor. The two have known each other since fifth grade and have four children together, but he continues to be awed by his wife’s “extremely creative mind,” “boundless energy,” and “love for the Lord.”

“Where do I begin?” he said, also describing her as “awesome,” imaginative,” “friendly” and “beautiful.” She’s a wonderful woman, my best friend ... .”

Despite the praise from colleagues and loved ones, Hall said she could think of many others more worthy of a lifetime achievement award. She also stressed the importance of cooperation and teamwork in her achievements, adding, “It’s not something that’s done alone.”

Looking ahead, she said, “I am proud to be a part of this wonderful community and look forward to working with many others to make it an even better place to live.”