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Tracy Le Roux: An ace at making things happen

Sep 27, 2022 | General | 0 comments

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The recently retired Serena Williams may hold the record for most aces served in a tournament – 102 en route to winning the 2012 Wimbledon title – but when it comes to rolling up one’s sleeves to make things happen, for the benefit of those in need, no-one can ace Tracy Le Roux’s will and commitment to getting things done.

When Tracy stopped working in a client-facing role at an asset management company to start a family, she realised that she had more time to give back to communities-in-need and to channel her love of administrative work for the benefit of others. “I was a member of a social circle from days studying commerce at UCT that had been active in charitable causes, but we all found there were no organisations that catered for our age group after graduation. Rotary clubs had a much older age profile and there was nobody looking to make use of the time and money we had on our hands as young professionals,” she says.

Tracy and her friends decided to use their regular meet-ups to coordinate donations toward charity projects. “We did not just hand over funds; we got actively involved with the skills we had in the group, or we sourced the skills we needed if we did not have them.”

Just Doing It (JDI)

This group soon became one of more than 40 groups under the umbrella of a charitable organisation that was established, called The JDI Foundation, which provided a board of trustees, financial management and a networking structure to coordinate projects and pool resources.

Although initially involved in a hands-on sense, Tracy’s financial administration skills were called upon at group level. “Someone was leaving and so I jumped at the opportunity to take over the financial management of JDI and have more involvement with the projects supported by the organization. That then morphed into general administration when another role was vacated. I was thrilled to be able to take on these roles as I am one of those rare people who love doing admin.  I focus on making sure that everyone else who is not good at admin can get on with the things they are good at. Making an impact is about finding everyone’s skillset and leveraging it,” she says.

“If you are not good at something you are unlikely to enjoy it so you will keep procrastinating. If you find someone who is good at that task, it will get done quickly. I find people who have the right skillset to step in, where necessary. That is what I am good at.”

Tracy has been involved in the JDI Foundation for 19 years, and a trustee for 10 of those years.  Her role includes pulling together the annual Cableway Charity Challenge (CCC).  This event has been running since 2009 and supports various charities through pledges raised by individual or corporate sponsorships, for runners to complete the course up Table Mountain as many times as possible in one day

Since JDI has become involved with the CCC, steered by Tracy’s incredible hands-on and passionate approach, the event has raised and paid over in total an incredible R4,7m to a host of beneficiaries – including Wilderness Search & Rescue, Coolplay, Paedspal, Ons Plek, SAEP and Vera School amongst others. New beneficiaries will be chosen for the 2023 Challenge and each year Tracy is steadfast in her intention of raising in excess of R1m.

Never one to sit on her laurels, Tracy’s commitment to helping others does not stop at JDI’s doors. In 2018, in support of her friend Kim Mcleroth, who has set up a feeding scheme called Ndihluthiz, Tracy also started working with the organisation. “We raise the money to buy bulk ingredients that can be used to make up nutritional food packs consisting of soup mixes, rice and seasoning. School learners then package the food, with cooking instructions, which are then distributed in the poorest communities,” says Tracy.  Each pack feeds four people, so that is a staggering 410,000 meals.

How to pay it forward

Tracy’s main learning from her work in charitable causes is that most people want to help, but are overwhelmed by the decision of where and how to begin. “Part of that is worrying about who will take the lead, make decisions and look after the money. We try to take that out of the equation so that people can get on with doing what they are good at, which is helping people with their own set of skills.”

Looking forward, the main challenge Tracy has identified for JDI and other charitable organisations, is passing on the baton. “When our group began having children, we were still contributing donations, but had less time to get involved in projects, so we shifted to vetting providers to spend the money. The membership of JDI has been fairly steady for decades, which means our next task is to get a new generation of young people involved. We need new ideas and approaches so that we do not get stuck in our ways.”

If you have always wanted to give back, but have not been sure how or where to get started, we have rounded up some key outtakes from our time with Tracy to help you and others get involved in making a difference:

Use your skill set: use the skills that you are good at to truly benefit charitable causes. Computer whizzes can help teams on the ground improve their knowledge, finance heads can help with balancing the books and creative coordinators can give input for event ideas.

Empower others: empowering others to get on with the work that they are tasked with, helps to teach responsibility and shows trust in the individual and their abilities. Ultimately it can also help an organisation to be sustainable and not rely on you to get the work done moving forward.

Encourage your children and young people to get involved: starting young provides an opportunity for children and young people to learn and grow into valuable members of society. They develop life skills as they get immersed in activities that are outside of their comfort zones. They become socially aware and learn to appreciate their life and value what they have. For young adults, volunteering serves as a great way to help them enter tertiary institutions and their first jobs, more competent and employable, thanks to the additional skills they have picked up by helping others and working together as a team



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