Breast Cancer is no match for Lavar Jacobs and his non-profit organization, Not Just October, which promotes breast cancer awareness all year round. After losing his mother to the illness in 2009, Lavar shifted his focus to how he could help better the lives of women dealing with breast cancer as well as survivors. He founded Not Just October in 2014, because he believes “breast cancer is an issue all year round, not just in the month of October.” In sitting down with Lavar, I couldn’t help but to notice his passion for helping these women and raising awareness. His hard work, sacrifice, and optimism could even inspire the most motivated person I know.
WRiTTEN BY: Khrystian McCalister
Lavar lived a good life growing up in Akron, OH with his brother and both his parents by his side. However, once his mother passed, he began to live recklessly for a few years, in the sense that he was not taking care of his responsibilities. He always knew he wanted to start an organization dedicated to his mother, but it was just a matter of time and money. Lavar started handling his business and got a good job as a Metro bus driver. He even got married! Once he got his finances and his focus together in August 2014, he founded Not Just October. “During the month of October, the color pink is very prevalent,” he told me. “When November 1st comes around, everyone puts their pink away and continues on with their lives. Not me.”
Not Just October holds events every month for those affected by breast cancer like ‘Paint for Pink’, ‘Pink Yoga’, awareness walks, and more. Lavar often attends and speaks at other events to meet people and connect with more breast cancer survivors. He was the guest speaker at the 30 for the Future event where he was recognized by the Greater Akron Chamber for making a difference in the city and in his respected fields. There are signs on
metro buses with the NJO logo, and Not Just October is even getting recognition outside of Ohio and was one of the official sponsors for the Breast Cancer Awareness walk in Las Vegas! The NJO social media pages are catered to breast cancer awareness and the events they are involved in monthly. There is also Not Just October merchandise like hoodies, t-shirts, and wristbands that promote the movement. Lavar wants his organization to be a lasting basis of support for these women. Although the organization is fairly new, support is definitely flowing in. How could you not support such a good hearted movement like this one?
I could see that Lavar’s loss motivated him to help provide a better support system for women dealing with breast cancer, so I asked him how he knew this organization would be the best way to help. “From my own experience with my mother, I know the financial and emotional hardships,” he explained. “I want to give these women another perspective so they know that they can make it
through this.” Not Just October assists families financially with minor help for bills, but it is still growing so more help can be given as growth continues. NJO offers a free life coach for women to speak with, and it also offers employment classes for them. Currently, 46 people provide recurring donations to NJO on their website equalling about $1,000 a month. All of the money donated goes towards the continuance of the spread of breast cancer awareness and the research fund.
The experience of all this is very rewarding to Lavar. “Through all the good hugs and smiles that I get from women with breast cancer, they let me know I am really making a difference,” he stated. He has big goals for Not Just October including the infinite spread of breast cancer awareness, a research center dedicated to his mother Kim Jacobs, and making this a full time career for himself with an office in downtown Akron. During his journey, Lavar has learned alot about himself, others, and life as a whole. Staying focused and never being complacent are just a few things he said are important to him. He also stated, “Be nice and kind to all people you meet. You never know who you are talking to.” With this in mind, he is always meeting people that support his movement and offer to help. If anyone wants to learn how they can be involved, they can contact Lavar on the Not Just October website.
For him, the movement is not about recognition for himself or his own actions. His purpose for spreading awareness is to save lives and families. As Not Just October continues to grow, it is becoming a platform to change lives. “Not Just October is who I am now,” Lavar stated in is interview. Starting this made him cherish his health more and appreciate life. “Bringing joy through philanthropy is what keeps me going. I want all women to know that breast cancer is not a death sentence.” October may be over but the mission is not.
IG – @notjustoctober
Twitter – @notjustoctober
Facebook: Not Just October