IT IS WITH HEAVY HEARTS that we share the sad news of the passing of Billi Vermaak, who played an integral role as student liaison for JumpStart’s Manufacturing and Professional Retail Programmes. Billi was a gentle soul with a great spirit. She will fondly be remembered for her motherly instincts, taking JumpStarters under her wing from the day they started the skills development programme.
Billi’s quiet and unassuming nature often made people underestimate her strength of character. Yet her shy smile and words of advice to everyone she met were always insightful and filled with wisdom. Her passion to see young people succeed and the self-esteem that she constantly encouraged will forever be remembered by those who interacted with her. She always saw the worth in her JumpStarters and listened intently to their fears and dreams.
Billi connected with students and suppliers on behalf of Mr Price Foundation and ensured that the cogs of the JumpStart wheels were well-oiled since she took on her role in 2013.
“The hope and inspiration that Billi gave the foundation team, and especially the JumpStarters, will always be remembered. She was always a shoulder to lean on for both her sons and our team,” said Karen Wells, Head of Mr Price Foundation.
“I have worked side by side with Billi from the time I joined the foundation. I have no words to begin to describe the loss. She was one of the most amazing souls I have come across. She was always true to her gentle nature and had a caring disposition for others. She touched the hearts of so many people, including mine, and she will not be forgotten.” Yurissa Sawers, Head of JumpStart
“Present opportunities are not to be neglected. They rarely visit us twice. Billi was an individual who made the most of all the opportunities presented to her. She was always kind and honest. She looked out for each intern and student as if they were her own. May her legacy and love continue to live through all of us.” Damien Chetty, JumpStart graduate
“Billi was a gentle soul, kind and full of life. She was super independent and didn’t want to be centre of attention. She was so accessible to her students, even beyond working hours. She loved her work with the foundation.” Thandeka Zulu
“Quiet, humble, caring, sincere, graceful, confident, unique and brave are words that come to mind when I think of you, Billi. Gone too soon but your amazing impact will last generations.” Pierre Tostee, Head of Communications, Mr Price Foundation
“Billi was like a mother figure to the PRP students. She genuinely cared for us, gave us great advice and wanted the best for us. Even after completing the programme she kept in regular contact with the students. She will really be missed.” Suhail Rajah, JumpStart graduate
“When Billi started working with the foundation in 2013, I don’t think she understood she had stepped into a massive purpose that God created her for. She worked with students, she inspired them, she counselled them, she helped them, but I don’t think she knew how she impacted so many lives. When I look back, I realise that was God’s plan. He led her into that role. He made her do something you don’t need to be trained to do. She had a heart for these kids, because it mattered to her.” Natasja Ambrosio, Director, Mr Price Foundation
“I am absolutely devastated to hear about Billi. She was always such a support to me and her passion and care for the JumpStarters was legendary! She will be sorely missed. All my love and support to her family and the foundation team.” Janice Moolman
“I really enjoyed the friendship that we experienced. She was kind and easy to get on with.” Karen Corbishley (DUT)
“It was a real pleasure working with Billi as she had a sincere passion for the development of learners. Whenever I heard of JumpStart programmes, it was Billi that came to mind. I will miss interacting with Billi as we both shared a deep passion for learner development. Her passing will leave a huge vacuum in the humanitarian field.” Jai Deepnarain (Eddels)
“I would like to celebrate the life of an amazing teacher, an amazing mother, an amazing mentor, an amazing friend, and overall an amazing human being. There are not enough words to describe the type of woman Billi was, nor is there enough time in this universe to define her character. Billi played such an integral role in leading us JumpStarters, as students and guiding us and empowering us to lead with our hearts and our souls on our sleeves.” Martin Steenkamp, JumpStart graduate
“Bili was one of the most empathetic people I have known. May her memory be a blessing.” David Simpson (Alley Cat/Blanc Clothing)
“Billi was the most loving and caring person. She was so nurturing and so passionate about the upliftment of others. She will be dearly missed. My condolences to her family and all those who loved Billi.” Vib Kambaran