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Autumn Powell: VABA Original Board Member Passes Suddenly

08/08/2017, 6:15pm EDT
By Ben D'Alessandro

"To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.  Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts.  The only true gift is a portion of thyself."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is with a very, very heavy heart that I pen this article.  Last Wednesday, August 2nd, one of VABA's original Board Directors, Autumn Powell, passed, suddenly, at the age of 56, from a sickness, in her home.  

Autumn was one of the brightest lights and brightest stars in the 20-year history of the Virginia Basketball Academy - a cornerstone of VABA since its foundation.  No one epitomized Emerson's inspired words like Autumn Powell, and very few individuals, if any, have volunteered more of themselves to VABA over the years.  Autumn Powell made as large an impact as any individual on VABA, as an organization.  

The Powell Family moved to the Charlottesville area in 2000.  Her son, Matthew, attended VABA summer basketball camp that summer (and every subsequent year until he graduated HS), and he began to make his mark, not only as a player, but as the consummate stellar citizen.  Matthew represented VABA as the ultimate student-athlete at Monticello HS and The Covenant School (as team captain in 2007-08 season).  Matthew returned for many years as a VABA Summer Camp Coach/Counselor.  

Autumn, and her husband, Steve, both selflessly offered of themselves and contributed in multiple ways from VABA's inception and were instrumental in VABA's early success and beyond - especially during the period when the BD Basketball School transitioned to the Virginia Basketball Academy, establishing itself as a local non-profit (2007).

At this time, without any guarantee of VABA's success, Autumn eagerly sacrificed herself as a VABA Board Director, serving on its Executive Committee as its first Treasurer from 2007 - 2010.  As talented as she was in finance and bookkeeping, these talents were usually overshadowed by her incredible positive and uplifting personality and impeccable character.  Her sudden passing was most unexpected and is sending shock-waves through VABA's long, line of Board Directors as we reflect on her amazing contributions and the indelible impact she made on helping establish one of the Charlottesville community's most influential youth sports organizations.

Autumn personified the term "servant's heart."  She was of a lowly spirit, humble, meek consumed by serving others.  She was tender, gracious, pure of heart, always full of joy and boundless generosity.  It was never about Autumn.  There was never a moment in Autumn's mind that was not preoccupied with the question, "What can I do, now, to give of myself to another?"  This is all she lived a breathed for.  

A woman of deep faith, Autumn was one of the sweetest, most positive and uplifting souls I have ever met in my life.  I would not be surprised if countless others felt the same way.  Whenever you were around Autumn, you always walked away feeling warmer, happier and more blessed by having been in her presence.  She gave of herself and her energies tirelessly - always with a heart to serve others, make a positive impact and change and improve the lives of those around her.  Autumn was in the conference room, on multiple occasions, contributing in many early and late meetings, planning out and working through VABA's path toward success - and, even when VABA's Board of Directors drafted and adopted its mission statement of "building character and shaping lives through the game of basketball."  To this day, this mission, which she helped formulate, has been the guiding statement for VABA as an organization for 10+ years.  In addition, Autumn was instrumental in VABA's Vision of "inspiring youth to become exemplary citizens," its values of scholarship funding and providing top-level instruction for all its participants.  

On a personal level, Autumn's passing has been a crushing blow.  I have lost a very close friend, someone whose love, opinion and counsel I valued greatly, and up until the day of her passing, she remained friends of the VABA program, consistently staying connected, checking in on its progress.  When someone spoke to Autumn, she listened so keenly, she absorbed every word that came out of one's mouth.  Nothing was every trivial or insignificant to Autumn - everything had weight and meaning for her.  

Autumn was a committed disciple of Jesus Christ, and ultimately aimed to serve the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength.  She had a special commitment to many philanthropic causes, and it always brought her the greatest joy to see the contributions VABA was making through its Scholarship Program.  On countless occasions, the Powell Family generously donated directly to the participation of innumerable families in financial need.

To say VABA has been riveted by this very sudden loss would be an understatement.  Those of you who knew Autumn, or even those who deeply appreciate VABA's mission and values, I would encourage you to attend her memorial service (see details below).  It would warm her heart greatly to know there was "VABA Family" and "extended family" moved enough by VABA's mission to celebrate her life and what she stood for.  

The memorial service (Obituary) will be at the Church Of The Incarnation, 1465 Incarnation Dr, Charlottesville, VA at 7:00 pm on Thursday August 10, 2017. The family visitation will be one hour prior to the service (6:00 pm) at the church.

Tag(s): Breaking News!