Women supported, period
One day, Susan Simmons heard a story about how women affected by a recent hurricane did not have access to feminine hygiene products. She researched a bit, and learned that natural disasters are not the only cause for tampons, pads, and the like to be inaccessible. Women and girls who live in poverty also struggle to afford items which are expensive, but necessary.
“If someone is homeless or poor, the life cycle of a woman does not stop,” she said. “I knew if it was an issue elsewhere, there’s got to be an issue here. I talked with my husband (Bruce), and it resonated with both of us.”
So they got to work.
Susan researched the issue, and found U.S.-based organizations like The Homeless Period Project that collect and give away menstrual products and work to change the stigma surrounding periods. Internationally, organizations like Days for Girls are creating and distributing reusable cloth menstrual pads in places like Tanzania, India, and Brazil, so that girls will no longer have to skip school because they do not have the supplies necessary to manage their periods.
The Simmonses put together 16 packages of feminine hygiene products – each packet includes pads, tampons, panty liners, and flushable wipes – in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Then, they brought the packets to the Madison Market food pantry (led by St. Paul people) on Dec. 11. The pantry is held two times a month, the second and fourth Tuesdays, at the J.B. Young Opportunity Center. The first Tuesday is also when the diaper ministry, led by Amy Philip and Sara Harless and stocked by their family and friends, distributes free diapers and wipes to families with young children.
Every single period packet Susan and Bruce brought went out the door that day.
“Women who live in poverty are struggling enough,” Susan said. “If they know that this one thing can be taken care of, it can give them some dignity.”