As part of our Centennial Celebration, United Way Bay Area is pleased to recognize exceptional people who helped us create a century of impact. Today, UWBA continues this important work as we chart the path forward for the next one hundred years. Together we can achieve our mission to dismantle the root causes of poverty and build equitable pathways to prosperity.
This year, Adele Corvin will celebrate her 100th birthday. That makes her one of United Way Bay Area’s longest supporting donors. A native San Franciscan, she’s a founding member of the Tocqueville Society, and has given so much of her time and talent to making a difference in the lives of others. Her wisdom spans decades of change and uncertainty, of hope and elation.
“Things are never smooth and easy,” Ms. Corvin reflected. “There’s always a challenge and always a need for leadership.”
Her leadership in the world of philanthropy began in her school-age years in the 1930s. Through her participation in various youth programs, Ms. Corvin became familiar with United Way, and began donating to help those who were less fortunate. In those days, she said, children learned how to volunteer in the public schools to help their communities.
After graduating from College in 1943, she worked for a short time before meeting her husband and starting a family. “I didn’t work after that, which was pretty typical of the time,” she said. Eventually, however, Corvin found her way back to volunteer work and got involved at her local United Way. One of her proudest achievements was helping to establish a network of Adult Day Health Service Centers, aimed at providing medical care to those who couldn’t afford it. United Way provided the necessary technical and logistical support to make it all happen. “It was fantastic for me to work with the women who had the capacity to develop centers and work with their sponsoring agencies,” she remembers. “Some of them were sponsored by hospitals, others were stand-alone centers.” An achievement like this was incredibly fulfilling. Equally enriching, however, was the process of understanding how she could help others through her work at United Way.
“You learn about the different communities within your city, and you learn about the needs of other people. So, it’s a learning process for yourself as well,” she said.
Ms. Corvin recognizes that women today lead different lives than they did in the past, often working and raising a family, with less time to create the kinds of transformative programs that can help other people change their lives.
That’s one reason why United Way established Women United, a networking group of powerhouse women dedicated to fighting poverty in the Bay Area.
Ms. Corvin’s compassionate legacy has helped make our region more livable while expanding opportunities for working people and families who struggle to afford the basic essentials amid the high cost of living here.
The key, she said, is connecting with others to make change together.
To learn about how you can connect with like-minded individuals to help end poverty in the Bay Area, please contact Channa Sweet. To learn about other ways you can help everyone thrive, check out our how to get involved page.