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Ted and Yuki Yamaoka Scholarship Fund

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Scholarship Fund

Ted and Yuki Yamaoka Scholarship Fund

Adam Kimple has a simple philosophy about giving – start young and make it a habit. His first introduction to organized philanthropy came when his mother, Elaine Kimple, worked as a part-time employee at the Holland Community Foundation from 1983-1986, and again from 1994-1999. Elaine worked alongside the late Bill VanderBilt during the merger of the Holland and Zeeland Community Foundations. She used to bring Adam, a young child at the time, to the office with her on occasion. 

Both Adam and his older brother, Randy, served on the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) all four years of high school. “The philanthropy in Holland/Zeeland truly stands out. There’s a unique culture of giving back,” said Adam. “Serving on YAC was a unique way to see how donors make giving a habit, and how foundations operate to benefit the community.”  

As President of the 1999 West Ottawa High School graduating class, Adam encouraged his fellow students to do something with a legacy for their class gift. They established the West Ottawa Class of ’99 scholarship fund with money raised from the students, and additional funding from some families who were moved by the opportunity to benefit future students in the district. 

Adam’s commitment to philanthropy continued to grow during his college years. Upon graduating Michigan State University, he decided to create an endowed scholarship fund, the Ted and Yuki Yamaoka Scholarship Fund, to honor his late maternal grandparents.  

Ted and Yuki were second-generation Japanese Americans who met in Zeeland in the 1940s while working in a chicken hatchery. They married and settled down in Holland, raising three children. Ted and Yuki believed that education was the key to success. “My parents always used to say during their later years, ‘We don’t have a nice house, we don’t drive nice cars, but all three of our kids graduated from college,’” said Elaine. “That was their treasure, to see their children and grandchildren achieve aspirational careers and create their own American dream.” 

As a college student with limited income, Adam connected with Bill VanderBilt to work out a flexible arrangement where he could give $1,000 per year to the scholarship fund until it grew to meet the required minimum. He kept the fund quiet at first. Elaine found out while sorting through some tax paperwork Adam had given her. “It was a total surprise!” she said. “Adam was very close to my parents, and I only wish they had lived to see him honor their legacy in this way.” 

 Over time, the fund evolved into a family affair. Elaine and her husband Paul, Randy, and Alan and Wendy Yamaoka (Adam’s uncle and aunt) make regular contributions and were instrumental in helping endow the fund. “Once we heard about the fund Adam had established, we felt strongly that we wanted to be involved,” shared Alan Yamaoka. “My parents always emphasized education as a high-priority and this fund is a great way to honor them.” Together, the family dreams of growing the fund to provide financial support to more and more students and for multiple years. 

Adam listened to his grandparents and, as he says, might have taken education too seriously. He obtained a MD and a PhD and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He contributes a fixed percentage of his income each year to grow the fund. “The Ted and Yuki Yamaoka Scholarship Fund is my way to give back to my hometown,” said Adam. “I share materials from CFHZ with my children to help them learn about philanthropy. I talk with them about the lessons I learned from my grandparents, and how education and scholarships impacted my life. I would love for them to be involved in the fund one day and continue the habit of giving in our family.” 

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