From playing basketball in the WMBA to founding a nonprofit to help women in Africa, Lindsey Pluimer is an intrepid woman.
While Lindsey Pluimer was playing basketball and studying communications at UCLA she wrote a paper on the lack of media presence during the genocide in Darfur and committed to one-day traveling to Africa. Little did she know that commitment would change the course of her life. That trip happened when after playing two years of professional basketball Lindsey joined a nonprofit volunteer trip to South Africa. It was on that trip that she decided she would retire from playing basketball in the WMBA and instead start a nonprofit committed to helping kids in need thrive as she instantly fell in love with the kids and saw firsthand how a little went a long way for the children.
Pluimer founded the organization “With My Own Two Hands” and they provide sustainable solutions to projects in Africa that help benefit orphaned and disadvantaged children and youth in need. She states,
“Our dream is to provide all children with an education in Africa, but we understand that in order to provide an education you must also provide water, food and shelter. Therefore, we are committed to providing aid within the areas of education, shelter, water, and agriculture.”
They have recently tackled the issue of forced marriages and female circumcision with the goal to provide young girls a safe refuge by building a rescue dormitory for the HELGA Rescue Project in Kajiado, Kenya. Two weeks after the grand opening we received word that the dormitory was already at full capacity (42 girls). Those 42 rescued girls are now safe from being forced into marriage and are provided access to education. We also just built a greenhouse with the St. Ann’s Orphanage in Kikopey, Kenya with collaboration from JCREW and EDUN fashion companies.
Pluimer comments that her motivation comes from her own upbringing, “I was fortunate enough to grow up with a loving family, safe community, and received an amazing education. I realized how fortunate I am and that it is my responsibility to be a part of a cause committed to giving children better access to education, health, water, and food.”
What are the biggest challenges? She states that being an international organization and getting people to connect to a cause outside of their local community can be tough. She says,
“We do not have the luxury of easily showing people our project sites unless they join us on our volunteer trips. We have to work very hard to show people directly how their donations go a long way for children in need.”
Advice for those interested in this path?
Pluimer encourages women interested in the nonprofit sector to remember how important their work is. She observes, “People who are called to this work have to have a big heart and a lot of drive, but when you know your career is changing lives, work becomes more meaningful and important. I would suggest finding a mentor. I have a couple great mentors that have been very helpful in guiding my efforts to grow my organization. Also remember to network! Relationships are everything!”