Not Just October is a nonprofit organization that was created by Lavar Jacobs. A bus driver by trade, this is his way of giving back. According to its mission statement, the organization was created to expand the knowledge and resources available to breast cancer patients, survivors, and their supporters. The organization is dedicated to fostering a culture of encouragement, advocacy, and total support. Through the promotion of education and community engagement, NJO hopes to improve the awareness around breast cancer and its effect on families around the world.
Through frequent community events and outreach programs, Not Just October continues to spread its message and garner support from people around the country. Jacobs became a celebrity when he was featured on MSNBC for his work in the community. He shares with rolling out the driving force behind why he started this movement.
You lost your mother to breast cancer in 2009. How did she inspire you?
When my mother passed away in 2009. I was 23 years old. I immediately had the idea to begin Not Just October, but I knew it would take maturing and the initial finances to do so. Thanks to patience and a good woman in my life (my wife), it was my time in 2014. My mother was my best friend; we spent hours and hours together and we could talk about anything. It hurt me so much watching my mother battle this terrible disease. I have first-hand knowledge and experience of how to help other women who are currently battling breast cancer. Through a large social media following and roots in Akron, Ohio, I was able to hit the ground running with Not Just October. At first, it was all about awareness of future goals to provide aid and services. With the support of my city, NJO is now able to provide aid and services to women currently battling breast cancer in addition to spreading awareness by thinking outside the box. It took time and we are still growing but the vision is getting more and more clear each day.
What is your profession?
In my career, I am a bus driver for the city of Akron, Ohio (Metro RTA). It gives me the ability to interact with men and women from many different walks of life. My career has been a great stabilizing tool in my life that has given me the ability to fund Not Just October.
What kinds of programs and services do you offer?
NJO provides several services such as lawn care, snow plowing, home cleaning, carpet cleaning, wig preparation, transportation and more. We provide all of these services free of charge to those women currently battling breast cancer. I always explain to women that anything that they may need, I can find an entrepreneur to provide the service and they will bill NJO. We also adopt families for Christmas and are working towards a college book scholarship each semester benefitting a child from a family who is battling breast cancer. Our goal overall is to make things easier for these women and their families. Battling cancer is hard enough, so we aim to take some of the daily pressures away, provide ease to their lives and make it remain as normal as possible.
Why is this endeavor important to maintain?
When I put my mother’s name behind this organization, I knew that I would be striving to help women for the rest of my life. My mother died at 49 years old, which is very young. I want her legacy to live on through me by making an extreme impact in her honor. I want my mother, in heaven, to be proud of the things I’m doing. As long as there is breath in my lungs, Not Just October will continue.
How do you receive funding?
Not Just October runs strictly off of donations and my personal funds. In the beginning, every dollar put into Not Just October came from me and my family. As the organization grew through word of mouth and social media, more people became aware and donations started to come in. Every time I speak, I always say that if no one ever donated another dollar to NJO, I would spend my last to make sure our mission still continues. I am thankful for every donation that has come to us, giving us the ability to provide all of our services. Those who wish to donate can visit www.notjustoctober.org. Thankful is an understatement, it’s a blessing to be a blessing and I’m excited to see what’s next.