At Plywood People, excess is viewed as raw material, waiting to be transformed into a solution for global issues of need and suffering.
Gisele Nelson, the project manager at Plywood, said that the nonprofit has a two fold purpose. First, to provide relief to the poor, underprivileged and distressed. And, second, to support other organizations conducting charitable activities.
“We started with a rough idea that we wanted to be able to address social needs through innovative ideas,” Nelson said. “We really value collaboration, so we began an education component of our work, so that others who are starting can learn with us how to move their ideas into implementation.”
Two years after their launch, Plywood is regularly providing seminars and events for social enterprises and nonprofits looking to grow and expand, as well as selling cards that are handmade in Rwanda from banana leaves, bracelets and necklaces that are handmade in Uganda from magazine paper and bags and wallets handmade by refugees with materials provided from outdoor advertising companies. The organization also provides gift cards for projects that need them.
Plywood requires that all of their products both utilize waste, and help to provide lasting solutions to poverty and need. But, as products are created and sold, the team insists on doing much more than selling their goods. They aid refugees as they learn English and financial management skills, and provide them with a first place of employment to put on their resume, as well as guiding the organizations they work with into increased innovation.
“We are hoping that through Plywood we will be able to be connected with and speak into projects that are being birthed,” Nelson said. “We are hoping that through the projects we are apart of, we would really be able to help make change in the lives of the Refugees that work with us. We always say, ‘We Will Be Known By The Problems We Solve,’ and that is what we hope will be true of us. As we work on projects, we want to be known for more than just having good ideas. We want to be known for solving problems.”
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Photo Credit, Plywood People.