WINONA LAKE — Growing up, 28-year-old Katie Jacobson saw her “unconventional” family as normal, or at least as normal as any family can be. With 11 adopted cousins and a large but close extended family, her childhood gave her a unique lens to see life through when it comes to values and passions.
“For me growing up it (adoption) had always been the norm,” said Jacobson. “So it was exciting to find an outlet for a passion that had occurred naturally and has been a part of my life for a long time.”
The Grace College graduate became executive director and first staff member for Raise the Dough, a nonprofit organization assisting families with the adoption process and expenses. With a compassionate, understanding heart and listening ears, Jacobson has assisted and supported families through the long, difficult process.
This life was spun into existence through a revelation Jacobson had after reading a handwritten letter from her father after graduation, full of the wisdom and support only a parent can offer.
“Throughout college I was very ministry-minded. I had it in my head for a long time that, in order to be the most beneficial to my community, I would need to serve and work in a church,” Jacobson reflected. “My dad wrote this letter, and it sounded like common sense but it really shifted my mindset.
“He talked about how we’re able to serve and make a big difference in our communities, in whatever we’re doing. Whatever I chose to do could be my mission field. That gave me permission to branch out and expand the horizons I had set for myself. Without that, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am or doing what I am doing today.”
Doing things in a small way simply isn’t Jacobson’s style. Celebrating everything — specifically people — is part of her charm and why she fits in so well with Raise the Dough’s mission. Letting others know how important they are is critical to her.
When she isn’t working with families, hanging out with her group of friends or reading mystery and suspense novels, Jacobson can be found in her home with her husband nursing plants. Thriving plants about their home makes it similar to a greenhouse.
The interactive hobby keeps her busy despite an already hectic schedule since each plant requires a lot of research and understanding as they have individual needs — just like every family she walks beside.
“I think I’m a natural maximizer,” she elaborated. “I love seeing where something has started and being able to make it grow to be bigger and better. The fact that Raise the Dough has been able to grow so much based on volunteer effort is incredible. I think this could be so much more than what we’d ever imagined.”
One of the most rewarding moments in her experiences was witnessing one of the first families she had started working with bring their baby home. From the beginning of the process to bringing the baby through the doors of their new home years later, Jacobson was there supporting them.
Without realizing it, life had naturally provided her with all the important expertise and experiences that would allow her to uniquely prepare the family for this next stage in their life.
It was then, she realized, she was exactly where she was meant to be.