Every28Days honored as Outstanding Innovative Project by AFP
In January 2016, Director of Development at Share in Vancouver, Washington, Kim Hash, was approached by Clark County residents Dianna Kretzschmar and Kevin Kloewer who asked if there was a lack of feminine hygiene products for women and girls experiencing homelessness and poverty in Clark County. Hash was surprised by the question but immediately said "Yes!" Though they receive generous donations of toilet paper, toothbrushes, shampoo, and deodorant at Share, feminine hygiene products are rarely donated.
From that significant encounter originated a drive called Every28Days, to collect feminine hygiene products for women who, due to circumstances, cannot afford them. Many homeless or poverty-stricken women resort to using anything they can find for free, such as socks, newspapers, toilet paper, or rags that they rinse out. If they have access to tampons, they are often leaving them in too long. These alternatives can cause health issues from infections to death from toxic shock syndrome.
"For many women and girls experiencing homelessness and poverty, having a period is a nightmare. Feminine hygiene products cannot be purchased with food stamps and are extremely expensive for women with limited or no means," Hash said. "Women have been silent about this issue to avoid embarrassment. The crisis has been hidden in plain sight."
Kretzschmar organized a committee to collect and solicit for products throughout Clark County. She arranged for 18 collection locations and launched a social media campaign. Kloewer offered to host an event at his restaurant, Garage Bar and Grill, where people could bring donations. Together, their efforts yielded eight pallets of products that were delivered to the Share warehouse for distribution through Share shelters, Street Outreach Team, and other nonprofit agencies in Clark County that serve women experiencing homelessness.
Lisa Goodrich, an original Every28Days committee member, took the reins for the second year efforts with an unfettered determination. She increased the number of collection sites, secured media coverage in both television and print, and garnered proclamations at meetings from the City of Vancouver council and the Clark County council.
The second annual Every28Days was a huge success resulting in over 16 pallets delivered to the Share warehouse.
"Our focus, besides gathering the product itself, was on getting the word out. We believed that if the public knew of the need, and how easily they could be a part of the solution, they would respond," Goodrich said. "The response was amazing! We were getting notes and calls from all over the area, with most saying they 'never knew' and 'thank you' for bringing attention to the situation."
Extensive community involvement of numerous businesses and residents throughout Clark County helped Every28Days succeed.
"The goal is, and always has been to reduce and eventually eliminate women needing to use unsafe and unhygienic methods to deal with their monthly cycle," Goodrich said. "This is about providing dignity, regardless of circumstance; the women we serve deserve to maintain their dignity, their health, and their comfort just as much as the rest of us."
Read about the other 2018 Philanthropy Award honorees at publications.pmgnews.com/fpubs/2018/philanthropy_awards_2018/mobile/index.html