PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Realtor® David Hall receives a phone call from a teen asking him to meet at the Driver’s License Bureau and lend him money to get a photo I.D. A few minutes later, another teen calls to see if Hall can take him to lunch. Such is a normal day for David Hall, a broker-associate with Coldwell Banker Residential in Port St. Lucie.
After serving as a foster parent for 10 years, Hall decided to shift his dedication to the teens aging out of the foster care system. “After being a foster care parent, I saw a need to help the kids who turn 18 and are no longer in the system,” he says. “I help them stay in high school and college and support them in their job hunts, and with necessities such as food and shelter,” says Hall, who does this completely on his own, with his own money.
“The first six months after a teen ages out of the foster care system, he is sick of people telling him what to do and how to do it. He’ll try to reconnect with family but that usually doesn’t work, so he’ll eventually come back looking for help,” says Hall.
The problem? There is no help. That’s where Hall steps in. “I feed them, support them so they can finish college, and basically give them what they need [out of his own pocket] to get them back on their feet. Sometimes they reimburse me when they can, but most of the time, it’s my gift.”
Recently, Hall also started to work with Community Outreach Youth Program, which is run through a local church and Lincoln Park Main Street, which is working to economically rebuild the northwest section of St. Lucie County, to find other ways to support these young adults.
Hall is currently supporting or partially supporting seven kids, ages 18 to 23. Two are still in high school, three are in college and two are trying to find a job. “Two are living with me right now as it’s the only way they can go to school,” he says. “They can’t afford to pay for shelter and food.” And, he says, he gets calls all the time. “The kids find me,” he laughs. “Many are kids who met me through the foster program, but others find out about me via word of mouth and my son’s Facebook,” he says.
Hall says most of his requests are for money. “I provide basic needs. I’ll take them out to eat, drive with them to the gas station and fill up their cars, pay for a photo ID card. It varies based on their most urgent needs,” he says. He’s even made arrangements for a teen to have his cremated mother’s remains released from the funeral home and put into an urn.
And, when Hall can’t help personally, he “connects them with community services that can provide help.”
Unfortunately, when these kids get out of the foster care systems, the government has essentially raised them and “the government isn’t a very good parent,” says Hall. “When the reality hits these young people, and they can’t call a case worker to get them out of trouble, where do they turn? Someone has to advocate for these kids to get what they need to survive.”
For Hall, the rewards come in knowing that a teenager is safe, and able to turn his or her life around. “I had one teen who had been in and out of jail. I lost track of him and then one day he surprised me and stopped by the house. I helped him move back to Port St. Lucie and get enrolled in school. It was fulfilling knowing I could be a part of the solution,” he says.
And, Hall adds, the most meaningful reward of all is a simple thank you. “One teen sent me a text on Father’s Day thanking me for all I had done for him. The text came in at 2 a.m. and it was sobering to think he was thinking about me at that time. He never showed his emotions, so this was huge.”
However, Hall admits that his passion for helping these young adults does “consume my time. For the last two years I’ve been rebuilding my real estate career, and working with these teens has helped me empathize and sympathize with the challenges of people looking to buy a home.”
But, the sacrifices and challenges are worth it, Hall says. “The kids mean the world to me, they really do. To actually see the difference you made in their lives is incredible.”
Hall is as passionate about his profession as he is about helping young people. In 2002, he was selected as Florida Realtors® Associate Realtor of the Year, an award given in recognition of an individual’s contributions to their local Realtor organization, community, the state Realtor association and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Hall also has taken additional education courses to enhance his knowledge and expertise, earning the professional designation of Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI).