By: Kelly Sweeney McShane President and CEO of Community of Hope
In 2015, Community of Hope created the Tom Nees Award for Exceptional Service to recognize its recipient for their long-standing, deeply-impacting service to the women, men, and children who turn to Community of Hope for help. This year, we are presenting this award posthumously to J. Yost Conner, Jr.
In about 2008, as Community of Hope was undertaking an ambitious goal of building what is now the Conway Health and Resource Center (CHRC), we were connected with Yost — thanks to the assistance of the DC Bar Pro Bono Center. Then a partner at Patton Boggs (now Squire Patton Boggs), Yost worked hand in hand with me for over a decade on every aspect of real estate law as we built CHRC as well as in taking on additional smaller real estate issues along the way. Because of the thousands of hours of work that Yost dedicated in service to Community of Hope, we have provided quality medical, dental, and behavioral health services to thousands of people at our Ward 8 location.
During our work together, Yost shared that he was a survivor of cancer, which is why our work always meant so much to him. Yost knew that access to healthcare is so much more challenging for those without resources and in under-resourced communities. Unfortunately, Yost passed away from cancer on April 12, 2020. At the celebration of his life, his family all told me that one of the things Yost was most proud of was his work at Community of Hope. Yost’s favorite motto was “Don’t Postpone Joy.” That phrase has really resonated with me, especially in these times, and I have shared them with many others on our staff. Community of Hope will be forever grateful to Yost. His work, words, and impact will continue to ripple outwards for many years to come—even to those who never knew him.
Photo: Yost (R) with his mother, Ammie Conner (C), and his partner, Sam Taylor (L).