Helping Women Period removes barriers of self-sufficiency that many homeless and low-income women face daily. They provide feminine hygiene products such as sanitary pads and tampons to women in and around Lansing, Michigan.
In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the Founders of Helping Women Period, Amy Stephenson and Lysne Tait.
Early in 2015, Amy and Lysne discovered that WIC and SNAP (food stamps) cannot be used to purchase sanitary pads and tampons. They were shocked that such a basic need was not supported by state and federal aid programs. This was also a matter of dignity. Homeless and low-income women without running water had no way to take care of basic feminine hygiene.
The two friends decided to organize a fundraiser. They hoped to raise $500 to help provide women in need with feminine hygiene products. Their small fundraiser blew up when it was announced on Facebook, though.
Suddenly facing over 100 attendees, Amy and Lysne had to find a new venue. With so much support, they also decided to start a nonprofit. Within five days they had gone from fundraiser to founding Helping Women Period.
Helping Women Period now provides feminine hygiene products to charities in the tri-county area for distribution. They have a great partnership with MichCo that allows them to purchase products at the best price, and they hold regular fundraising events and product drives.
In addition to pads and tampons, Helping Women Period provides handmade bags that allow products to be carried discretely. They also have donation boxes at various businesses in Lansing.
In their first year, Helping Women Period raised $14,000 and donated $8,000 worth of products. Considering the original fundraiser had a goal of $500, providing this much aid to women was a major victory.
They also partnered with several local charities to help distribute the products they acquire. These partnerships will continue to be vital to the growth of Helping Women Period.
If you are starting a charity, start something you believe in and make sure it is needed. Be organized from the very beginning and be accountable for your work. Leverage your strengths, collaborate with others to leverage theirs, and take care of your volunteers. Make it fun for them and thank them when they’re done.
Going into their second year, Amy and Lysne are confident that Helping Women Period can raise $20,000. This would be an extraordinary 40% increase over their first year.
They are also working on a handbook that would open up a Helping Women Period affiliate program. These affiliations would be a great way to provide aid to women in cities beyond Lansing. Long-term, Amy and Lysne would also like to help women in other countries.
If you like a charity’s cause, reach out to them! Try volunteering. Charities really appreciate volunteers and they will take care of you!
Another way you can reach out is to ask your employer about sponsoring a charity. A business sponsorship is a big deal for many charities. Sometimes it’s as easy as starting a conversation.
Erik Gillespie is a software developer and semi-pro advocate of amazing things. He founded Giving Jar, a blog and upcoming donation platform for Lansing charities, and helps people learn how to create websites and other software at Lansing Code Lab. He’s kind of obsessed with board games, too.