Adele, Kevin and Isaiah LaCombe
by Heather Klinger
For the LaCombe family, World Vision offers the opportunity to change lives for the better together, in a way that impacts each individual and speaks to their heart.
“It’s not about the funds themselves,” says Adele LaCombe, 48, CEO of Debbie Macomber Inc. “It’s about impact. It’s about being changed. It’s about understanding the needs and being a part of the solution.”
One fundamental need worldwide — clean water. Globally, 844 million people lack access. Women and girls often bear the burden of carrying water for their families for an estimated 200 million hours each day.
“No parent wants their child to have to carry water,” says Adele, a mother of three.
“We want our children to have a better life than we had. That’s given to us by God.”
Adele and her husband, Kevin, 50, envision for their children a life that includes a spirit of giving. In their day-to-day life, they model this through investing their time, talent, and treasure into multiple local, national, and international organizations, including World Vision.
Because of Adele’s work with her mother, Debbie Macomber, their relationship with World Vision started out as part of their family legacy, but it flowed into their personal lives.“We came to World Vision to give, and we leave changed,” says Adele.
Over the years, Adele and Kevin have observed that even though you don’t necessarily expect or factor in mutual transformation with an investment, it’s often a byproduct.
So they encourage their children to embrace opportunities to give, whether it’s corresponding with their sponsored children — with whom they share birthdays — or choosing a gift from the World Vision Gift Catalog.
“As a family, you create opportunities to get your kids excited by giving, by empowering them to make decisions in that space — letting them go and learn,” Adele says.
Their youngest, 15-year-old Isaiah, surprised them in 2018 when he explained how he felt a call from God to provide clean water. He wanted to respond by raising $25,000 to build a well in Rwanda.
“I heard his overwhelming desire to be part of something way bigger than himself,” says Kevin, an engineer for the Department of Defense.
Isaiah’s passion for clean water began when his grandmother, Debbie, gave him $50 for Easter, asking him to donate it where he felt led.“It turned out that my $50 was enough to give someone clean water that lasts,” Isaiah says. And he intentionally chose World Vision after some thorough research.
They’re so effective at what they do. They’re transparent on how they use their money. But I also like that they’re so involved with everyone giving, and they care about you. They cared about me when I was giving $50, and they care about me now that I’m doing this whole campaign.
Isaiah LaCombe Student
“They’re so effective at what they do. They’re transparent on how they use their money,” says Isaiah. “But I also like that they’re so involved with everyone giving, and they care about you. They cared about me when I was giving $50, and they care about me now that I’m doing this whole campaign.”
About that same time, he was reading A Long Walk to Water, which is based on a true story of two children in Sudan walking for water.
“I knew there was a problem, and sitting around saying I’m not big enough to make a change wasn’t going to help anybody,” Isaiah says.
For him, it was less of a goal and more of a duty. But on his $0 yearly salary — plus benefits, he adds — achieving this bold vision would mean stepping out of his comfort zone for the greater good. It meant trusting in God’s plan, even when he didn’t think he was the right person for the job.
“There’s so many reasons why I’m not the perfect person to have started this campaign,” says Isaiah. “Parts of it are uncomfortable for me. I’m not a great public speaker, and it’s a big part of the role.”
He’s gone far beyond public speaking. Isaiah has joined his grandmother on Home & Family on the Hallmark Channel, written articles for various publications, and visited his elementary school to inspire other children to dream big. Along the way, several World Vision staff have helped simplify it for him.
“It’s absolutely a focus of his time, but the resources, structure, and wisdom that World Vision provides are phenomenal,” says Adele.
Even though he’s found it to be a lot of work, it’s not been a sacrifice.“These kids that are actually out there collecting water — they’re sacrificing their life,” Isaiah says.
Over the past year and a half, Isaiah’s felt the support of his family, friends, and other World Vision donors he’s met at the annual World Vision conference.“There’s no better feeling in the world than knowing that there’s all these people I’ve looked up to that believe in me and what I want to achieve,” says Isaiah.
And the LaCombes observed that Isaiah was inspiring others as well.
“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me who have supported him and encouraged him, but have told us how he is an encouragement to them,” says Kevin. “That’s been one of the real joys, seeing his impact on people who I would consider mentors — how they’ve really dived in and wanted to be a part of what he’s doing, what his purpose is.”
Isaiah’s very close to raising $25,000, and thanks to generous partners for his campaign, all donations toward his goal are multiplied three times — more than he could have asked or imagined. That means he’ll be helping to provide clean water to about 2,000 people.
But the journey for the LaCombe family is far from over. They’re now joining a community of Visionaries, World Vision supporters who strive to help transform the lives of children, families, and communities in the name of Christ.
“Isaiah’s Rwanda campaign has really been a leaning-in for Kevin and me, too, about the work that we’re doing with World Vision as a family,” Adele says. “When he said, ‘I want to take on this goal, and I believe in this,’ it made Kevin and I look at what we’re doing and say, ‘Our own children are leaning into this. What are we doing?’”
Adele thinks of joining Visionaries as wading into the water a little bit deeper and living into their calling.
“Visionaries — almost anyone you know could be invited in,” Adele says. “It might be really tough for some people, and it might be a little bit easier for others. But almost all of us could tighten up our budgets and figure out a way to make that happen. A kingdom investment.”
And when you figure out a way to make an investment happen, you might leave here changed — like the LaCombes — along with the lives of the people you help.
"When you talk about the spiritual impact on people and the impact you’re making on people’s lives, all of those things are so profound,” Adele says. “When you look at World Vision from a business perspective, there’s nothing run better. It doesn’t matter where my dollar goes at World Vision. It’s being used well.”
When you look at World Vision from a business perspective, there’s nothing run better. It doesn’t matter where my dollar goes at World Vision. It’s being used well.
Adele LaCombe CEO, Debbie Macomber Inc.