(Jan. 10, 2018) -- Meet Richard Plumlee '15. This UTSA alumnus feeds 58,000 Texans weekly and recently provided aid to the Virgin Islands with former Spurs player Tim Duncan, to help communities ravaged by the recent hurricanes.
Born in Honolulu, Plumlee lived in various parts of the country before he put roots down in San Antonio. His passion for helping others was his primary reason for enrolling at UTSA.
While at UTSA, Plumlee double majored in public health and sociology. He also joined the Honors College. He appreciated his professors for their welcoming nature and says they helped him readjust to campus life after being away from school for two decades.
“The Honors College opened a lot of doors for me,” said Plumlee. “I was able to study abroad in Italy and be exposed to their culture. Through the university, I was also given the opportunity to serve communities in developing countries, which furthered my desire for helping those in need.”
As a Roadrunner, Plumlee helped spearhead the Public Health Student Association at UTSA, and he served as vice president for the UTSA chapter of Global Brigades, which plans and organizes mission trips for underserved communities. While working with the latter, he traveled to Honduras and Panama to provide medical and dental services to individuals living in poverty.
“My professors mentored me and guided me toward the right path. The concepts I learned in my classes are principles that I put into practice every day in my job,” he said.
Plumlee works at the San Antonio Food Bank as the inventory and food safety director. In that role, he manages inventory that is distributed to underserved communities. The Food Bank distributes products from the San Antonio warehouse to a network of more than 500 partner agencies in 16 Texas counties.
When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, Plumlee and his team went into disaster-relief mode and organized the massive inventory that needed to be sent to displaced families.
“We had donations come in from all over the world,” he says. “In one instance, we had a donation of three charter buses filled with water and supplies. It made my heart swell that people cared for others that they’ve never met.”
Recently, Plumlee joined former Spurs player Tim Duncan to provide aid to Duncan’s home community in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They were in St. Thomas with a crew of eight for six days.
“We distributed food and medical supplies and taught the locals how to set up food lines,” Plumlee said.
The inclement weather nearly made the mission an impossible task, but the team was determined to help the affected areas.
The team made a second trip in October to St. Croix to provide more relief to the locals.
During their third trip in November, the team supplied the locals in both St. Thomas and St. Croix with food needed to supplement a Thanksgiving meal.
Over the course of the three visits to the Virgin Islands, Plumlee and his team distributed 500,000 pounds of food, water and medical supplies to more than 30,000 individuals.
“The experience has made me appreciate the things I often take for granted like food accessibility and the safety of a home that I have for my family. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, little did I know that I would get that opportunity three times,” said Plumlee.
Plumlee is appreciative of the resources UTSA has given him.
“UTSA has had a positive impact on my life and I know it would do the same for anyone going to college.”
He credits UTSA for igniting the fire in his heart to help others. Plumlee believes service is a pertinent piece of the university’s reputation.
“At UTSA, there’s an essence of community involvement and giving back. Those are the values of the university that I treasure most.”
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