We like getting to know the people behind the non-profit organisations that we partner with. Today, Kate Jacobs, the Office Administrator for Refilwe, tells us more about working for a non-profit organisation.
In 10 words or fewer, what is the idea behind Refilwe?
To positively impact children in and from our surrounding communities.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received (in the context of a Non-Profit Organisation)?
Master Your Schedule – in the NPO world it is so easy for the urgent to take over the important and it is critical that we develop the ability to guard our time as all of our staff work in multiple roles and must work efficiently if we want to get the work done.
What advice would you give those wanting to work for, or start, a Non-Profit Organisation?
Define your vision and pursue it passionately. Don’t allow yourself to be side-tracked by things that might seem like good ideas but don’t actually influence your goals.
What, in your mind, has been Refilwe’s biggest success?
The way that we have built a strong relationship with our local community over the past few years and now strive to work together, rather than coming in to impose our ideas on them.
What have you/ your organisation learnt from mistakes that may have been made?
We have learnt the importance of making sure that donors are connected with the full picture and vision of Refilwe, and not one individual or program, even if their primary involvement is with one program. This gives us the opportunity to build a much more sustainable relationship over a long period of time!
In what way would you like Refilwe to impact South Africa?
We would love to see the Lanseria area become full of young adults who are able to make a positive change in their communities because they have been adequately educated and inspired from an early age.
Have you met any people or heard any stories that have inspired you to do the work that you do? If so, please tell us a little more.
Our founders, Jean Stewart and Yvonne Jacques, started Refilwe in 1991, and have been working tirelessly in the communities surrounding us ever since. They have such hope for the people that they work with – even when one of their families messes up and disappoints them they keep working through the issues and go back every week to try and help them. Their passion for the individuals in the community is inspiring – from spending 6 months working on a plan to enrol a little boy with cerebral palsy in a special school, to advocating for a new roof for an old, homebound man, who got wet in bed every time it rained.
Why did you decide to do the work that you do?
I came to South Africa (from the USA) after my second year of University and kind of got stuck – this is a beautiful country and full of incredible opportunities! After being House Mother at Tsholofelo Baby Sanctuary for nearly 5 years, I was given the opportunity to become Office Manager at Refilwe and jumped at the chance to impact so many more people on such a variety of levels. Even though not all of our stories seem to be successes at the end of a day, there is always something else that can be done tomorrow and so many people working to make something of their lives. If I can give them a hand in the right direction then that is the legacy I want to leave behind.