RCDS alumnus Matt Hoidal ’87 is a graduate of the Hill School and St. Lawrence University. He is also a lawyer and a marathon runner, but among his many achievements one of his most notable is becoming a “change maker”. When Matt was studying for the bar exam, a sequence of events occurred that inspired him to follow his passion and commit his life’s work to help others. Over twenty years later he is doing nonprofit work on a scale that he never anticipated.
“I had done volunteer work here and there throughout my life,” said Hoidal. “But none that really started to attract my attention to the nonprofit world until I signed up to run this marathon.”
Hoidal wanted to dedicate his run to a worthy charity. On his search to find a recipient, he discovered a plethora of compelling causes that tugged at his heartstrings. Among them was an organization called Camp Sunshine, a national retreat for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
“I had wanted to be an attorney since I was a very young kid,” said Hoidal. “But I could feel my heart pounding away and it said, ‘You need to do something here.’ That was really my wake-up call.”
Hoidal’s involvement with Camp Sunshine made such an impact on him that he ended up accepting the position of Executive Director and working for the organization full-time for 13 years. His additional charitable work includes serving with the WCSH News Channel 6 Who Care Board of Governors, the Maine Marathon Committee, the national Board of Directors of SADD, Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions), and the Board of the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Maine. Through these experiences, Matt witnessed the human spirit at its best and was inspired to create something of his own. In 2017 he founded World of Change, an organization that benefits those in need and empowers young students to become change makers themselves.
“If I had to guess, it all stems back from my educational experiences,” said Hoidal. “That gave me the confidence to be able to do something without a clear roadmap as to how it should be done.”
World of Change is not intended to be a simple fundraiser. First and foremost, the program educates youth ambassadors about the importance of philanthropy. Those ambassadors then engage in efforts to collect spare change and donate the funds to an organization of their choice that provides essentials to children and families in need. Since its founding, WOC change makers have gathered millions of coins for more than 200 nonprofit programs worldwide specifically focusing on impact across three areas: food-meals, housing-beds, and education-backpacks.
“I love educating kids,” said Hoidal. “And I love walking into an auditorium, feeling their excitement, gaining their interest, and inspiring them to get involved in a very tangible way.”
RCDS is thrilled to partner with World of Change for the 2023-24 school year. Hoidal will visit RCDS students in the fall to share the WOC mission and guide them to create meaningful change first-hand. They will choose a cause to support and even have the chance to deposit coins they collect into the famous change truck – a giant piggy bank on wheels. The initiative will be integrated into the School’s Service Learning Program and will engage students from grades N-8.
"Traditionally, RCDS students learn and serve through very hands-on experiences,” said Service Learning Coordinator Amy Clark. “Matt and his change truck will quite literally drive our Service Learning Program into the new year. This will provide a concrete way for even our youngest students to take ownership and see the impact they can make on their community.”