The Refuge Women’s Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on supporting women living with Cancer in the Triangle area of North Carolina. The founder, Gabrielle Scott, was a caregiver to her beloved mother who passed away due to complications of Cancer and was inspired to help other women of color through the process. Her organization provides support groups, community engagement, and awareness about Cancer research. In no way, shape, or form has it been easy but she is committed to supporting women living with Cancer. She’s a wife, mother, works full-time, and entrepreneur all while accomplishing her academic goals. She’s the Co-Founder of Brown Girl Enterprises, LLC, a consulting business that provides services to empower nonprofits with establishing their organizations. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2010, member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, and recipient of the Eagles of Change Award at North Carolina Central University. Currently, Scott is a graduate student at North Carolina Central University and pursuing her Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management.

What was the process like for you starting the Refuge Women’s Project?

My mother had Triple Negative Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I had never heard of it but when I found out about it she was in Stage 3. She was living alone in Fayetteville, North Carolina so I moved to live with her to be a full-time caregiver. I was newly married with a new baby so we were literally just trying to make it happen between going back and forth. The process of being beside my mother and seeing her journey really closely helped me create Refuge Women’s Project. I noticed that there was a lot of information that we did not know and I felt like if we had known her journey could have gone a little bit smoother. We would have been able to prevent certain things from happening. Therefore, I really wanted to get out into the community, specifically the African American community, to get information out there. One thing I do know is that even though people are getting Cancer at the same rate between White versus Black people we are seeing Black people die at a faster rate from it. So with all that is going on with science there is still not an explanation to why this is happening. That’s why I wanted to get information out to the community to try to be ahead of it, bringing awareness to early detection, and health for your total body.

What life lessons did you learn from starting your own non-profit?

Wow, let’s see. One thing is you can never do anything by yourself. I’ve learned that you can definitely be a visionary for something but that does not mean you are equipped to push the vision in the direction it needs to go. So you have to be willing to lean on other people for help to get you over the hump. Sometimes you may be so protective over something you create because you don’t want other people to steal your idea but if God truly gave you something you have to trust that it’s yours. Nobody can replicate what you’re doing. I had to learn you have to allow people to assist you.

What is something you have learned about Cancer and how it affects Black women in the process of forming your own nonprofit?

My mother had to do a gene study at UNC and I found out my mother carried the Breast Cancer Gene. That was the first time I had heard of anything like that. I did not know there was such a thing. I just figured it was something that some people get and some don’t. I found out in my family bloodline that most of the women had Breast Cancer. I had an aunt, during my senior year of high school, who passed away and my mother is a gene carrier which meant my sister and I had a 50/50 chance of having the gene as well. That meant we could possibly pass it down to our children. It was crazy because for me it was my doctor’s talking to me about am I done having children, if I would consider having my breasts removed, and a full hysterectomy to be ahead of the issue possibly happening. It was just so much and I was looking at my husband like we are still young which means we are not certain of what God may have in-store for us to do in regards to growing our family. I had to go through the process of grief from my mother’s passing, being a wife, and new mother so I am in a higher rate for issues to happen so that’s why I’m focused on my personal health.

What beauty products are a part of your self-care routine?

I love Carol’s Daughter and The Mane Choice for my twist outs. They have the Pink Lemonade & Coconut Curl Boosting Sherbet that is one of my absolute favorites. It’s amazing for a twist out and or wash-and-go look. My best friend told me they have a coffee-based gelatin that she uses for her wash-and-go looks so I’m going to try that from The Mane Choice. As for body care, I’m starting to get into natural body care products. One thing I’ve heard many people buzzing about is the Honey Pot products and I love them. The feminine wash and wipes are my favorite. I’m still looking for a facewash but I am looking into Urban Skin RX. Those are really great products but I haven’t settled on a face product yet. I’m trying to go a more natural route with things so I’m still shopping around.

What are ways to reduce stress while in quarantine?

I’ve been learning to honestly take time for myself. I’ve been home with the kids, homeschooling, working from home, starting new businesses, and I had to create a schedule that works for us. So in the mornings my husband and I have coffee time during breakfast and we are more intentional about taking time out for myself. So I’ll do homeschooling with the kids but then they know there is a time just for mommy to focus on herself. It’s about pacing yourself, taking care of your health, and find things you like to do. It could be listening to a podcast, watching a video on YouTube, journaling, and then having family time. It’s all about balance. My best friend started a new podcast called “Millynnial Things” that I listen to pretty consistently.

Click here to view Gabrielle Scott’s ABC11 Interview from her relaunch event.

For more on Gabrielle Scott, click here.

Stay connected by following her on Facebook, Instagram, and Apple Music.

photos by Alexandria Anderson of AfroCurl Photography and Morgan Crutchfield Photography