Interview with Jessica Michael and Evonne Weatherby of Water Me
Tell us about your company, it’s purpose, mission, target audience, goals, what makes it unique.
Water Me is a non profit organization targetting short term volunteerism in five specific regions (we figured that if we only go to specific areas, we can benefit them more). The reason why we called it “Water Me” is because everyone needs someone to pour love and hope into them at some point in their lives. We want to be those people that do that.
Water Me works with Orphanages, help the elderly plant gardens, etc. Our target audience is anyone who wants to make a difference in the world.
Evonne: We are unique in that the owners have both volunteered overseas in: India, Nepal, Paraguay, China, Malawi and Ukraine. Our trips will be to places we have either been or have personal ties to through other family members or friends.
How did you come to work together in the first place?
My mom finally decided to move back to the US for good and with both of our experiences in volunteering and our contacts overseas, we figured Water Me would be a great idea to make a difference in places where we had seen the most need.
Evonne: Jessica had this great idea that since we both had done volunteer work and enjoyed it, that we ought to keep going and expand and offer this wonderful opportunity to others.
Please describe your respective roles in the company.
My title (Jessica) in the company is President but believe me, it’s only a title because I thought of the idea. Evonne (mom) is the VP and Grant Writer. We basically split up things according to our experiences and knowledge and we go from there.
Evonne: Our biggest role is to transcend the titles. We both bounce ideas off of each other almost daily. Each of us is working to make contacts where we live in Colorado Springs, CO, and Miami, FL.
How has working together affected your relationship outside the “office.” In other words how do you keep family matters separate from work related issues?
Jessica: I think it has been great, we are already close so it was easy to do this together. My mom has always had all these great ideas and dreams for the future and now we finally put one to paper and got it started.
Evonne: Both of us are very respectful of the needs and desires of the other. We have a very easy working relationship. We tell each other honestly and compassionately what we like and don’t like. We sometimes disagree, but always manage to reach a compromise that both are happy with. Jessica is the artistic talent of the organization.
What are some of the challenges you have faced working together?
Jessica: I don’t feel any power struggles or anything, I think the thing that we do deal with more is the fighting- but because we know each other and love each other, we get over it quicker. I think it’s a blessing that we can feel free to be completely honest with each other. If one idea sucks, we can tell each other.
Evonne: we are very upfront with our views, but we’ve never gotten angry, frustrated maybe, but both of us are quick to try to look at it from the other’s viewpoint. Jessica is a very kind, easy going person, but passionate about what she believes is important.
Jessica: Anytime someone volunteers!! We haven’t done much advertising, just word of mouth and we have had quite a few people volunteer (BUT WE NEED MORE!!).
Evonne: Jessica and I have always been each other’s best friend and we encourage each other all the time. We are so pleased to have volunteers for our first trips to Ukraine and Malawi. We are just now doing church bulletins and using other sources to reach out to the public. We are confident that there are many people out there that want to make a difference in the world.
What do you like best about working together? Least?
Jessica: I think the best thing about working together is that we can always trust each other. The least- maybe we can get a little too casual and need some outside influence to shake things up a bit.
Evonne: Best-I get to talk to my daughter every day and do something good in the world at the same time. Least-keeping focused and moving along on a daily basis.
What, if any big challenges or little annoyances have occured as a result of working together and how have you managed to overcome them?
Jessica: Hmmmm. The biggest challenge we’ve had so far is becoming Non Profit certified- that 501(c)(3) form is like a beast that we’re having to beat into submission!! And making sure we have enough volunteers for each mission so we don’t have to disappoint our children or the volunteers that are going.
Evonne: keeping moving forward is our biggest challenge since both of us work other jobs and have lots of interests.
What tips would you share with our readers for working with a member of the family?
Jessica: I think you should only do it after learning how you react after being together for days at a time with no break. My husband and I would kill each other if we had to work together.
Evonne: I think if you can talk together and disagree, but with compassion and kindness, then maybe you can work well together. Jessica and I are always quick to listen, give ideas and think things over. We can get frustrated at each other sometimes, but there’s always respect and our relationship is so strong, that we’d never consider hurting the other. We don’t take differences in opinion personally and we really consider the other’s ideas and opinions.
What’s been the most exciting thing that has happened as a result of working together (eg. unexpected publicity, obtaining an unexpected client/customer, an emotional moment, etc)?
Jessica: for me, it was the first time someone expressed an interest in our programs. It was soooo exciting and we felt that it was actually happening!!!
Evonne: it is so inspiring to hear the excitement in my daughter’s voice whenever we get a new volunteer. This is a dream for both of us and as it comes to fruition, we’re both in awe of what can happen when two people believe and work together unstintingly to make it happen.
What’s next for this mother daughter team?
Jessica: Who knows? Just expanding our groups and finding more things to get involved with in the countries we serve. If we can make even a small impact and change the world in some way, that would be our dream.
Evonne: Each of us comes up with new ideas, new contacts fairly frequently, so I think the sky is the limit. We’ve accomplished so much already!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Evonne: I would encourage every mother and daughter to work on something mutually important to both in order to make this a better world for ourselves and others who will become our friends, be they volunteers or those that are recipients of our services: the elderly, our youth, the envirornment, endangered animals and others.
For more information visit www.waterme.org
This article can be read in the Spring/Summer 2009 Issue of WE Magazine for Women