"It's one thing to be interested in stamp collecting and it’s another to get involved with the organized hobby."
This summer, APS Development Assistant Erin Seamans spoke with APS past-President and Roll of Distinguished Philatelists member Wade Saadi about the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship program, a scholarship program run by the American Philatelic Society. YPLF supports young philatelists, offers them unique opportunities to attend stamp shows across the country, and connects them with experienced mentors in the philatelic world.
Wade Saadi is a donor and longtime supporter of YPLF and a proponent of young philatelists and the future of the hobby. Read the full interview below:
Erin: What led you to donate to the YPLF for the first time?
Wade: I believe in two ways to get people into the hobby: one is with youth and the other is with 40-60 age group. I thought the YPLF program had a excellent plan to train youth, bring them into the hobby and introduce them to things that they wouldn't know by just being a collector and young person. It’s the exposure I believed in - letting the fellows visit APS headquarters and attend Summer Seminar. I believe that bringing them into the communal space of the hobby is just as important as the hobby itself.
I agree - throughout my time interviewing fellows they have shared the same sentiment of learning more beyond what they had learned as just a collector.
Not just the learning of philately but also the comradery offered by fellows and relationships that are lasting friendships. For example, Jessica (Rodriguex) and Ryan (Wellmaker), who got married this year, are two people that met in YPLF and are still active in the hobby.
Yes, that was a wonderful thing to celebrate in the last year, what with everything going on. Why do you enjoy giving to the YPLF and continue to support it?
I think it works. I have seen many graduates and I see where they have ended up. For example, Charles Epting, who is running H.R. Harmer in the United States, would have never had that exposure had it not been for YPLF and Alex Haimann. There are so many others that are still in school or service, like David McKinney, who is the perfect example of somebody who is active in the hobby - as much as he can be, while being in the armed forces.
Owen Chun was the fellow that I sponsored in 2014, and I actually met him in Holland when he was summering with family. I believe that we met in downtown Amsterdam and went to Ripley's Believe It Or Not, or the Wax Museum, back in 2015. I've made a lot of contacts with various fellows: I talk to Jessica, who is on the same board as me with the U.S. Philatelic Classic Society . . . these are young people who look to those that have experience to learn things and make their path easier. Tim Hodge worked for Linn's Stamp News for a while, Alex Gill works for the Philatelic Foundation . . . these people are sticking.
What is your favorite result of the fellowship program that you were able to witness?
That's a tough one, because there are so many success stories with this program that I hesitate to name just one for fear of diminishing others. We just went over a list of names of people who are playing a role in the hobby . . . without that exposure to YPLF, would they be doing that? I doubt it. It's one thing to be interested in stamp collecting and it’s another to get involved with the organized hobby. That, I think, is the main thing that gives me pleasure - to see so many of the graduates from YPLF have become a part of the hobby.
Bringing [young people] into the communal space of the hobby is just as important as the hobby itself.
I'm curious, how long have you been involved with the YPLF program?
From its inception. I know so many of the graduates since I attended all the general meetings where the fellows are introduced. I was the president of APS when YPLF started and I had the familiarity . . . of meeting fellows when they started and attending the party at StampShow. The YPLF program gives fellows a purpose - to want to be a part of the hobby, as opposed to just being a collector, on their couch collecting by themselves.
If you were talking to someone else about supporting YPLF what would you tell them?
That it is an opportunity to witness the growth of young philatelists who on their own would not know about the organized hobby. I think the big thing is exposing young people to the organizations that are in the hobby. This program allows young people to get involved at higher levels in the hobby. So I would say to someone that there is an opportunity to support youth and future leaders in the hobby.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would say that if you want to help in any way to instill younger people in the hobby from an early age - you know, those critical years of high school and college - consider supporting YPLF in some way, be it financially, as an mentor or just spreading the word that YPLF is a humongous success.
Are you wondering if you or someone you know should apply for the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship Program? Check out the exciting perks of being a Fellow!
- Receive a one-year APS membership
- Choose an area of interest: Author, Curator, Dealer, Designer, Exhibitor & Analyst
- Learn from an adult mentor
- Attend the Great American Stamp Show and Spring Meeting
- Attend Summer Seminar on Philately at the American Philatelic Center
- Interact with stamp collectors from around the United States