Longtime Pilgrim Place executive retires after 15 years

On April 30 Joyce Yarborough retires as Vice President of Advancement at Pilgrim Place, concluding an exceptional leadership era at Pilgrim Place that began in 2006. She joined the senior community after eight years as the executive at AbilityFirst Claremont Center.

Joyce came to Pilgrim Place with many friendships already, a love for its justice-seeking culture, years as a Festival volunteer, deep experience in local advancement work, and a craving for working in a collaborative team environment. Many residents volunteered with the Pomona Valley Council of Churches (now Inland Valley Hope Partners) when Joyce was there from 1988 to 1998. She served first as the Council’s development officer, then for four years as the executive.

Joyce and husband Terry met in Claremont and married in 1999 (on a mountain meadow, men in shorts, women in tartan). They plan to spend much of their time at their country home in the Sierra foothills. Joyce will be farmer, student of photography and gardening, explorer of the natural world, volunteer in schools or hospitals, and, of course, confidante to long-time and new friends.

Joyce was attracted to the Pilgrim Place passion for peace, justice and care of the Earth, continuing her lifelong pattern. After her childhood in East Neuk of Fife in Scotland, she prepared to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in college in Scotland and at Brunel University in London. Twice she taught in Africa. Her first stint was with British Volunteer Service Overseas for two years in a village in North East Nigeria, now tragically dominated by Boko Haram. Later she served three years in Zimbabwe as a Methodist mission partner, where she taught college level ESL and supervised student teachers, many of them scattered out in very remote settings. Her transportation was an old truck, traversing harrowing passages. She has stories of snakes, crocodiles and dangerous bridges. In between her African assignments she taught elementary school children back home in Scotland.

Joyce took what was to be a two-week vacation visit with friends to little Claremont on the west coast of America. The trip was extended, a decision made, a Green Card secured, a new life begun. For a while she wrote for the Claremont Courier, alongside beloved Pat Yarborough.

At Pilgrim Place her innovative work won many friends, sponsors and donors for Pilgrim Place, expanded the Festival, began the Napier Initiative, pulled off the Centennial Celebration and many other projects. She and her colleagues encouraged and led most of us current residents through the whole admissions process. She has personified a bond of collegial relationships with residents, the executive leadership team, other staff, and our supporters and board members. She is proud of her colleagues and their team efforts during the many intense months of this past Pandemic year.

Plans to celebrate Joyce’s tenure at Pilgrim Place are being prepared.  If you would like the opportunity to honor Joyce through a financial gift to Pilgrim Place, please contact Michael Townsend directly at (909) 399-5513 or donate online at https://www.pilgrimplace.org/giving.


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