Welcome the Meet The KAS Family. This is a new venture is designed to discover what it is like to be a KAS forum member from all parts of the world. This is the next stepping stone from the Square Heart Award. We hope to highlight individuals, groups, schools, volunteers and caregivers in this new arena.
Ronda Lowrie - February 2017
Since this is the very first posting we are going to start at the beginning of KAS and feature Ronda Lowrie, our fearless leader and dedicated soldier.
In June of 2008 Ronda went to Australia to visit her niece Sandy McDonald. During that visit Ronda shared with her about the shivering children on the side of the roads in the FREEZING Johannesburg winter. Previously she had been donating about six blankets per winter to the children, but even with these efforts she couldn’t sleep at night.
Sandy had just completed a website design and marketing course and put that knowledge to use designing her first website, Knit-A-Square. It launched in October 2008. The website immediately was discovered by knitting groups like Lion and Ravelry, by churches and women simply looking for knitting opportunities, especially for charity purposes.
When asked about the office/sorting space in the beginning Ronda writes;
For the first five years we operated out of our home … my husband deserves the biggest medal as every single room filled up with KAS items, floor to ceiling, except perhaps the bathrooms and kitchen! Even our own bedroom was full of blankets and bags of beanies etc.
Then Wendy joined us and, with her corporate contacts, managed to find us a wonderful suite of offices RENT FREE which we loved and spread out into feeling as though we would never have to move … but only 6 months later the entire suite was rented out by the owner. Wendy and the volunteers packed up and moved EVERYTHING out in 12 hours on 27th December 2013 while I was on holiday with my family – without telling me a thing until it had been done. By then we had acquired 4 or 5 large chunky pieces of furniture as well. Five homes all over Johannesburg became crammed with KAS items – even Wendy’s poor mother was press-ganged into housing some of the bits!!
After a real struggle for 6-8 weeks, operating out of our garage each week and be organized while we were in a complete shambles, we found Surrey Bizhub and rented a small room upstairs in our current building, as it was all we could afford.
KAS moved into the KASbarn 18 months ago, which is what KAS needs in terms of size and position. The only source of anxiety for Ronda is in asking forum members for funding in order to sustain this space.
Ronda’s favorite part about opening day is realizing how far we have come in terms of the operation. Last year KAS distributed over 5,000 blankets to children, as well as beanies, hand-warmers and toys. Ronda tells us, “On opening day we have a stream of visitors now that everyone knows where we are … Mabel sings along with the iTunes music I play and sometimes Vivienne from Soweto sings out in harmony. There is a lot of laughter and it’s a happy place to be every Tuesday, despite there being a good deal of physical work entailed.”
Ronda’s favorite thing about the distributions to children is the precious, unspoiled, friendly, smiling eager little children.
When asked about her vision for KAS in the next 5 years Ronda replied: “To be able to “employ” someone to fundraise, to pay themselves a salary, and we desperately need someone who can take over the administrative burden from me on many levels.
I also envisage handing KAS SA over to my Sowetan board members so that it can be entirely Sowetan- owned, but until the time is right, it would be irresponsible to do anything for the foreseeable future.”
When not devoting time to KAS, Ronda is involved with a wonderful church. She is part of the prayer ministry and hosts a home cell group. She says that she is a housewife that does all her own shopping and cooking and keeps two sets of books to trial balance, one of which is KAS, of course!
When asked about recommended reading Ronda tells us she isn’t into novels or other books. The Bible is her book of choice, and one that she recommends to everyone. After all BIBLE, stands for Basic Information Before Leaving Earth.
Ronda certainly has a love for South Africa, its children and its future. Thank you Ronda for all you do with your time, energy and effort for KAS.