Women Like Us Foundation
For Linda Rendleman, Women Like Us had its beginnings not as a foundation, but as a life mission. That mission of empowering and coaching women expanded to a business membership organization, magazine, T.V. show, radio and ultimately, a foundation. However, her dreams were cut short with a cancer diagnosis, so she took that dream and put it in an imaginary jeweled box, placing it in the top of her closet.
Today, that box is fully open and thriving. The Women Like Us Center in Kenya, the non-profit she established, is now fully on its own as a Community Based Organization, or CBO, similar to a 501-C but in Africa. The foundation started here in the U.S. but is now focused mainly in Kenya. Linda can now devote her time mostly to her coaching for women facing their next chapter of life. In this article, we define three principles, especially for those looking to answer, “What’s next?” but also for most anyone facing life’s challenges. They are: discover a need, define your expertise and determine a plan.
Discover a Need
The need for women to connect is universal and there are many organizations that have created a platform to fulfill that need. Some of those organizations are more successful than others and it doesn’t always depend on messaging or leadership. Some of it depends on providence, luck and even timing. For Rendleman, starting a magazine like the Indianapolis Woman for women when there weren’t many, if any, magazines for women in the 1980’s was a gutsy move. But she did it anyway and the result was very successful. This led to her being on a weekly T.V. and radio show around the year 2000.
As the audience grew, they understood women needed to connect by getting together. This led to an organization they called Business Women Connect, a membership organization with meetings held once a month. Again, there were not many groups like this at that time but it was fulfilling a need and they did it anyway.
Linda refined the focus of her successful organization to format the business as a non-profit, but then everything stopped with a cancer diagnosis. What do you do when life throws you a curve-ball like cancer? Linda knew that first of all she had to concentrate on getting well. This is when Linda placed her dream on hold, putting it in that imaginary jeweled box, not knowing if she would ever open it again.
Define Your Expertise
There are many who have put dreams on hold, whether because of a health issue, career path or even family situation. That box may be pushed back and hidden so well that it may be difficult to uncover. It might even be forgotten or dismissed. But usually there’s some sort of trigger that will create the spark to open it once again.
For Linda, part of her recovery included finally writing her first book, Women Like Us. The name stuck and was the perfect name for the dream she had put on hold. She found the imaginary jeweled box still hidden in her closet and opened it wide. As a non-profit, they would focus on training and education. The skills she had developed having a Master of Science (M.S.) in counseling psychology came in handy. For the first seven years they focused their work in the United States then branched out to include Kenya.
Why Kenya? Because she loved the country and loved the women! She also had the freedom at this point in her life to define the mission of Women Like Us. The need of the women was so great in Kenya. Sex trafficking, abuse, domestic violence and FGM was and is rampant, even for young girls seven, ten and twelve years old. There was a huge need.
Determine a Plan
Education became the main focus of the plan to help these women and the Women Like Us Foundation, now only in Kenya, works with over 160 women a week. The women take computer classes, sewing and earn certifications after developing a skill so they are able to work and earn a wage. The foundation’s location was also a part of the plan to help as many of these women as possible. They are located right at the edge of Nakuru Slums. Many of the women living in and around that impoverished area find the foundation and come for help.
Sometimes we don’t know where or when the fulfillment of a plan will be. The fact that many of the women coming out of the Women Like Us Foundation are now earning wages with life skills that are sustainable is not only exciting for the women, but for the community.
Courage takes on a whole new meaning when you understand that over 1,000 women’s lives have been changed for the better with a foundation like Women Like Us. It was a courageous act for Linda and her team to create an organization to teach these young girls and women life skills. With those skills, those women will now have the confidence and courage to create a different life for their families and community. These are skills that can impact another generation.
This mission is more than self-help and personal development. It’s life-changing. It’s what can happen when those at mid-career and the halftime of life use their skills, experience and network to help change lives. It’s an inspiring message, but only if it’s acted upon. You don’t have to go to Africa, start a foundation or create a business network. You can impact your world one person at a time. The rewards are great.
- about linda rendleman
Linda Rendleman, M.S. is a passionate champion of women, cancer survivor and the visionary of Women Like Us Foundation, a global nonprofit organization with the mission of changing the world by empowering women and girls. She is the author of three books, hosted, directed and produced T.V. and radio shows focusing on women’s empowerment and is the executive producer of a film documentary. A true believer in living her life with width and love, she is convinced that when times become difficult the answer is to persevere One More Day. She has extended her work to include coaching and facilitating women to re-discover their worth, gain clarity, and create their most confident next chapter. Find out more about Linda: Linda Rendleman
A pity party is a waste of time.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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