Kate Mills advances a ‘Worthwhile’ cause

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Kate Mills glances at the clock above the stove in her East Nashville kitchen.Kate Mills, founder of not-for-profit organization Worthwhile, partners with local businesses to provide a brief respite for overworked women. PHOTO BY MARY-ELIZABETH LONG SIMPSON

"It’s 5 o’ clock, so I can have wine now," she says with a laugh while making a spirited beeline for the refrigerator. After she pours her first round, she flashes a torn and tattered baby doll she recently acquired from eBay. This woman, who seems to have a special bond with those things that are abandoned and abused, is a believer in finding the beauty within.

Mill also relishes the precious few moments of sanity in a busy schedule. A wife and mother of three, she’s the founder of Worthwhile, a new not-for-profit in Nashville that strives to “renew deserving women from the outside in."

Until recently an educational assistant at Julia Green Elementary, Mills knows all too well the toll this mile-a-minute world can take.

"Someone said to me the other day, ‘Are you on your list? Have you put yourself on your list?’," she says. "I was like, ‘Wow’. As women we tend to take care of everyone else and think that we’ll make the time for ourselves and we don’t."

Inspired by a long-overdue pedicure, Mills’ mind wandered towards other women who were not as fortunate, including a fellow co-worker whose son had struggled with a myriad of medical issues. She felt compelled to offer her sistren a tiny taste of luxury.

Mills soon began contacting local spas, hair salons and yoga studios and urging them to offer pro-bono service. Their donations ensure that a sense of glamor returns to the routines of overwhelmed women.

While many not-for-profit start-ups take a targeted approach to their services, Mills insists that Worthwhile serve as a helping hand to women who need to simply re-energize and refocus.

"We’re open to the community," Mills says. "The great thing about Worthwhile is that we cater to everyone. We don’t just target women with cancer or women who are going through domestic issues. The point is that it’s women taking care of women. I don’t care what’s wrong with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, what color you are, what you look like or what your problem is. It just matters that you need that balance."
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Worthwhile, which has provided help to 50 women since its inception in April, has acquired a number of partners, including Ronald McDonald House Charities Nashville, Hue Tanning and Thistle Farms. To uncover more potential clients, the organization has established a relationship with Nashville organizations Magdalene House and The Next Door, programs for women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction.

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The works of Worthwhile transcend social or economic boundaries. Its mission is simply to contribute a little zest to the lives of women who are strung out by the harsh demands of this high-paced society.

"I liken it to filling up glasses," Mills said. "If your own pitcher of water is empty, you can’t keep filling up the glasses with water. You have to take some time to yourself."

Worthwhile accepts donations of gift cards to spas and salons all over Nashville and encourages salon owners or yoga instructors to be a partner with Worthwhile. On their website, you can also nominate a woman you know who could use some time to herself to get away, no matter her situation.

For Mills, it’s essential to squeeze in some downtime around all those dentist appointments and school board meetings. In the near future, she will expand her reach in the community to ensure others have the same opportunity.

"I want to branch out and see who I’ve been missing (in Nashville)," Mills says. "I’ve never had one business tell me ‘no’."

With that, Mills fills up another glass—not with water, but with white wine—and flashes a mischievous smile. Even on her longest days, she cherishes the thrill of the chase.