Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Watkins.
So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For as long as I can remember, serving others has been important to me. Several years ago, I came across this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?” His words have had a profound impact on me. I sincerely believe that we have been put on this earth to live beyond ourselves.
For the past five years, I have volunteered weekly at a local food pantry. Seeing firsthand the need in our community, I began to think of ways to make my dream of starting a nonprofit a reality. I have a business background but was unsure how to go about starting a nonprofit from the ground up. I enrolled in the Nonprofit Management Certificate Series at Collin College. My instructors helped me focus my ideas and gave me practical steps to turn them into a reality. Having spent the past 12 years volunteering at my children’s schools on PTA boards at four Frisco ISD campuses and as a board member on the Frisco ISD Council of PTAs, I have witnessed directly the tremendous growth in Frisco. I have a heart for the children in our community and wanted to focus my efforts on helping them. I met with several Frisco ISD administrators to discuss the needs they were seeing in our schools and how I might be of assistance. In May 2019 Refresh Frisco was born.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I would say the biggest obstacle to getting Refresh Frisco off the ground was finding the courage to take the first steps. Early on in my journey, my dear friend and cheerleader Jennifer gave me a personalized journal with the words “Be Brave” engraved on the front cover. Every time I step outside my comfort zone, I remind myself that there are children in need right in our own backyard and they are counting on me to “Be Brave” in my efforts to support them.
We are a new nonprofit and this is the first year that we will be serving the children of Frisco ISD. Our biggest struggle right now is getting our name out in the community and raising awareness and the funds to help achieve our mission. I reached out to several women that have started very successful nonprofits in our community and asked them to meet with me and share their experiences. They were kind and supportive and offered me words of advice and encouragement. I love the nonprofit community and the way many organizations go out of their way to support and lift one another up. My advice to other women getting started is to believe in yourself and do not be afraid to ask for help. Lean on other leaders who have gone before you and be open to learning from them. Attend conferences and networking events. Get to know others in the nonprofit community and seek their expertise.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Refresh Frisco – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Our mission at Refresh Frisco is to ensure every child in our community has access to personal hygiene items. We know that proper hygiene promotes better health and prevents illness and infections from spreading. Good personal hygiene also increases self-confidence and helps children to feel good about themselves and their appearance. Lack of self-esteem, especially during the teenage years, can negatively impact a student’s performance in school as well as their ability to form meaningful relationships and friendships.
We work directly with Frisco Independent School District to connect with students in need. Quarterly, we deliver Refresh Packs that include essential hygiene products to last each child for 3 months. Our care packages are delivered discreetly to the students via the school and the student’s identity is protected and confidential.
Our Refresh Packs are tailored to the child’s age and gender. A basic pack will include toothpaste, a toothbrush, floss, shampoo, conditioner, body wash/bar soap, lip balm, a comb or brush and lotion. Packages for those in middle and high school will also include razors, shaving cream, deodorant, and feminine products. We also include a Refresh Card (a handwritten message of encouragement) in each pack.
Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
I grew up in a very loving and giving home. Every weekend was spent with our extended family and I cherished the time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. There was always a lot of laughter and love. I watched my family look out for and care for their friends and neighbors. My mom prepared meals for neighbors in need; my dad is very handy and helped others around their homes. In fact, to this day they are still doing those things. My brother and I learned by example to think about others first and to help those in need.
My Christian faith also plays a big role in who I am today. The bible calls us to be generous and to love and serve our neighbors. I strive to live each day with a servant’s heart and fulfill that calling.
- Estimated cost for a Refresh Pack for an Elementary age child (enough hygiene products to last for 3 months) $20/quarter or $80/year
- Estimated cost for a Refresh Pack for a middle or high school age boy (enough hygiene products to last for 3 months) $30/quarter or $120/year
- Estimated cost for a Refresh Pack for a middle or high school age girl (enough hygiene products to last for 3 months) $35/quarter or $140/year
- Address: PO Box 5367, Frisco, TX 75035
- Website: www.refreshfrisco.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/refreshfrisco/
Photos were taken by: Elizabeth Watkins, Stephanie Cockrill, Christy Brown, Andrea Fink, Courtney Johnson