Mark and Karla Hall’s paths first crossed while attending Bradley University. Karla was born and raised in Chicago, while Mark hailed from Syracuse. When they married, they chose to return here to build their life together. Their common threads of love for family, devotion to faith and dedication to bettering their community overshadow the fact that they grew up many miles apart.
“One of the things that have been critical to us as we age is living by example,” said Mark. “We believe that what we’re given was given to us to bless upon other people.”
The road to philanthropy, as Karla notes, came at different stages in their lives. For her, inviting people into her home and sharing what she had with others was central to her upbringing.
“We were taught to give,” said Karla. “The more you give, the more you receive. I like to give and see people happy. That is rewarding in itself.”
Karla explained that her mom was the third of 17 children while her father was one of 12; a variety of personalities and needs surrounded her on a daily basis. The family never lacked someone in need of care. Mark watched his parents sacrifice for him and his siblings when they were growing up.
“My parents worked hard and never really had much,” said Mark. “But, we didn’t know that. We had clothes. We had food. Christmas was always flush with toys, and that’s what was important to us as kids growing up. I always saw my mother and father being a part of their church, giving of themselves and the little resources they had.”The Halls have long been believers in the city of Syracuse and the potential the community has.
“It’s really a beautiful city — we love it,” said Karla. “It’s a great place to raise your family and there’s always something to do here.”
The Halls’ relationship with us began nearly twenty years ago when they started a football and cheerleading program at Kirk Park in Syracuse.
“They were there to support us,” said Karla. “We made it a point to come to them when we needed something and they always kept us informed of workshops and available funding.”
The trust forged over two decades ultimately led the Halls to establish the donor-advised Mark S. & Karla R. Hall Foundation at the Community Foundation. Through their giving, they hope to provide opportunities for people to better themselves and know that somebody else cares. With the help of their fund, they will enrich the local community that they care so passionately about.
“The Community Foundation has always been a part of our family,” said Karla. “It’s gratifying to share in our vision with them.”