We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachael Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachael, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Looking back at my life, I can see a common theme throughout the different roles I held in different types of businesses. I have worked with horses, was a dental hygienist, owned a coffee shop, wrote a blog and book, and made jewelry. The common theme throughout all of these is that they were all a means to connect with people. Now, I am the director of a nonprofit that equips young women who have aged out of foster to live with purpose and freedom. It is the understanding of my passion that is the most important factor in the success of our organization.
My passion is to see others break free from the lies and become who they are truly meant to be. My passion is not jewelry, rather jewelry is the vehicle we use to mentor and employ these precious young women. The consistency of the weekly work schedule allows trust to be earned. It provides the setting where conversations happen naturally. In this affirming environment, they can learn they have purpose and can live in freedom.
Hope + Vine is the social enterprise that provides employment and mentoring for young women who have aged out foster care. This is how we accomplish our mission to equip and prepare them for a stable and secure future. Our vision is to break the cycle of foster care. But the passion behind everything we do is redemption – the ability for for pain, hurt, and sorrow to ultimately be used for good.
Our drive behind everything we do is that we believe everyone is uniquely created with value, and designed to live with purpose. Our circumstances do not determine our future. We are defined by our redemption, not our past. So regardless of how many followers or sales, it is knowing that these young women are redeeming their past and changing their future that determines our success.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the executive director of the nonprofit, Oh Lord Help Us. We equip young women who have aged out of foster care to live with purpose and freedom. One of the ways we accomplish this is through Hope + Vine, a social enterprise that provides employment and mentoring. The young women work as artisans in a positive and affirming environment while making inspirational jewelry, apparel, and accessories. Every item they make tells a story and every story has a purpose.
This mission came as a result of my husband and I’s journey to become foster parents. In the process of taking our classes, we learned what happens when youth age out. We learned that many become homeless, incarcerated, or are victims of human trafficking. Many young women become parents early, and more than half of those children end up in the system. We learned that foster care is often a generational cycle, and we wanted to break that cycle.
I could see dream of what this could be, and I could see the step right in front. It is all the steps in between that I couldn’t see. So I stayed focused on what I needed to do in the moment, and would glance up to make sure I was still moving in the right direction. However, those first steps in the initial months to launch this dream was incredibly difficult. As a team, we were overwhelmed and burned out. Feelings were hurt, tempers flared, and people left.
What kept me moving forward was knowing that this was my calling. I was meant for this role at this point in time. My fault was that I put an expectation on others to have my same calling. I learned that even though my calling and other people’s callings may line up for a season, it does not mean that we are meant to accomplish the same thing. Ultimately, I remembered that the reason I was doing this and who I was doing this for. Our team now works with a healthy stability, and we are all united in our focus to serve young women who have aged out of foster care.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would go hiking along the Mountain to Sea Trail and then go eat outside at any locally owned restaurant. My favorite thing is to be outside in nature!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband is incredibly supportive! He takes my role more seriously than I do at times. He believes so much in this mission, willing to open up our home to those in need, and spends hours of his time helping to make this dream a reality. He never complains about sharing the load with our home and children. He is my all-time favorite person!
I have an incredible Board of Directors that have my back at all times. They coach me, pray for me, and listen to me. They have seen me overwhelmed and vulnerable, and respond with compassion and assistance. They all hold very different roles, and I am immensely grateful for each one of them.
Instagram: @ohlordhelpus, @hope.and.vine
Facebook: @ohlordhelpus, @hope.and.vine.org