Committed to a Cause

Aiding the less fortunate is the reward for Anita Schavemaker, who helps run a Dutch nonprofit after nearly 20 years in business

Since Apr. 1, 2004, I've been an executive board member of a Dutch welfare and youth care organization, De Zuidwester, based in Breda in the Netherlands. I'm responsible for finance and administration, human resources and organization, information and communication technology (ICT), housing and quality, and I oversee 375 employees, excluding volunteers.

We're able to do what we do because of funding from the province of Noord-Brabant, the Dutch and the local government, as well as some of our own fund-raising. We have more than 25 different financing streams, all with all different demands, so my financial knowhow is very important to the role.

The goals of De Zuidwester stem from a passion to help less fortunate people, a passion I have decided to dedicate myself to. De Zuidwester offers support, help, and protection to young people and their parents. We focus on physical, social, educational, and emotional problems, and topics around growing up and upbringing. In addition, we offer support and housing to homeless adults, most of whom are alone.


7:30 a.m. -- I leave for work, a 45-minute drive from home. I call the real-estate broker for a house the organization wants to rent for a small group of 12 bargemen children. They need a place to live and someone to care for them when their parents are at sea for extended periods of time, shipping goods.

8:15 a.m. -- I check my e-mail, and I hand my secretary all the mail I read the night before with my instructions and replies. I have a short talk with people who have just arrived to work.

9:00 a.m. -- A meeting with the head of finance regarding the previous quarter's results and improvements in the management report that he's working on for me.

11:00 a.m. -- A meeting with an ICT supplier to discuss its proposal for improving our network.

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