Give the Gift of Giving

Are you looking for the perfect gift that really resonates with the reason for the season?  Look no further than giving an “In Special Honor” donation to Helping Women Period.

The pressure to add to an ever-mounting pile of possessions can be stressful around birthdays and holidays, but you don’t have to clutter up a loved one’s home to get him or her a gift. Donations in honor of another person are an excellent way to let them know you are thinking of them.   Click here to start the process.  Be sure to include the recipient’s address along with their name.  Once the donation is submitted, Helping Women Period will send a letter to the recipient, specifying who it’s from, outlining the donation, and how the money will be used. This convenient method of making a donation is not only extremely beneficial to local women in need, you don’t even have to leave your house!

new-check-out-screen-printYour donation can help Helping Women Period in the following ways:

$35 can support one woman for 1 year.

$105 can support 3 women for 1 year

$500 can support a shelter for 6 months

$1000 can support a shelter for 1 year

 

All donations to Helping Women Period are tax deductible. We are a 501(c)(3) organization.

As always, check out our website to find updates on future events, ways to help, and contact information!

Giving Tuesday and HWP

This year, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Helping Women Period is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving. Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday. Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities. We invite you to join the movement and to help get out and give this November 29.

How Can You Support HWP & Giving Tuesday?

It’s as easy and close as your front porch.  Just leave your product donation (in a plastic bag if the weather looks nasty) or financial donation  on your front porch.  Amy and Lysne will come around and pick it up!  Just fill out this form and we’ll do the rest!  If you know of others who may be interested, either share this blog or send them a link to our Giving Tuesday | Helping Women Period Facebook event.

Meet the Co-Director: Lysne Tait

Lysne is a key reason that Helping Women Period has come to fruition and not just another well-intentioned idea.

Late on a cold January night, Lysne read a Huffington Post article  about homeless women’s lack of feminine hygiene products. Concerned about the difficulty homeless women face, she commented and reposted it.  Amy Stephenson, a friend of Lysne’s and HWP’s other Co-Founder, commented on the article and they started discussing how they could help.  Together, they conceived a one-time fundraising breakfast which would allow them to buy a few cases of product and give it to a local homeless shelter.  The overwhelming response to that breakfast led them to form the non-profit and seek 501c3 status.  Eighteen months later, that one time event has become a huge part of their daily lives, and currently serves over 65 local charities and 16 schools.

If you ask Lysne what she does for a living, she’ll say she’s a professional volunteer.  Her experience helping other non-profit organizations like the Firecracker Foundation and the  DeWitt District Library is a tremendous benefit to Helping Women Period.  Not only is Lysne well versed in the operations of a non-profit, she knows that volunteers are the backbone of any organization like HWP and strives to ensure their experience is meaningful.  Her experience with technology, social media, event planning, fund development, and goal setting are integral to the success of Helping Women Period.

Lysne believes strongly that filling the basic need of feminine hygiene products for homeless and low income women is one key step in helping them become more self-sufficient. She helped start HWP because it was the right thing to do.  Thank you Lysne for all of your amazing work.

 

Photo Credit: McShane Photography 

School Outreach Initiative

Schools in Michigan lack something that Helping Women Period wants to address: a supply of feminine hygiene products readily available for young women.

As of right now, Michigan schools are not required to provide feminine hygiene products to students who either need them in a pinch or cannot afford the cost of buying pads and tampons. And in these cases, often teachers pay out of their own pockets to make students more comfortable and able to focus on their education.

Let’s face it. Having your period while in school was the worst.   It can be embarrassing to ask your teacher, an office administrator or some other school official for products.

Over 40 educational institutions were contacted in early September to provide staff the opportunity to partner with HWP and receive donations throughout the school year.  At this time, 15 schools have requested to receive items and many more are expected to trickle in throughout the school year.  In the few weeks since the initiative was implemented, HWP has distributed over 4700 tampons, 6800 pads, and 2800 liners to area schools.

Are you a school in Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, or Shiawassee county in need of product? Please contact us at helpingwomenperiod@gmail.com.  We would love to help you out!

As always, check out our website to find updates on future events, ways to help, and contact information!

Meet Jane Laycock, Board Member

Introducing board member Jane Laycock

Jane is an integral part of the Helping Women Period team and we are so lucky to have her! She was one of the first people to offer to help HWP and it was her friendship with the owners of MichCo that provided us the opportunity to work closely with them to source our products.  She has a BA in finance from Central Michigan University and experience of over 25 years as a senior audit supervisor for the State of Michigan. Working with HWP is a natural choice for her as she has been involved in her community for years:  Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, vice president and treasurer of the DeWitt Elementary PTA, and as fundraising chair and treasurer for 6 years of the DeWitt Band Boosters.

Jane’s expertise is evident in the ease (and joy) with which she handles our finances.  She tracks inventory and donations, provides financial reports to the board, and all the other responsibilities that come with being a good steward of the financial aspect of HWP.  Jane believes that giving low-income and homeless women access to products that would not necessarily be provided to them otherwise is an important issue, and is proud to be able to promote the mission that HWP advocates for everyday

HWP Goes to Chi-Town

What has the windy city lacked in the past? A Helping Women Period affiliate chapter you say? Fear not!  Because like geese during Michigan winters, HWP has flown south to Chicago.

Ida Melbye is the Norwegian born woman who runs the Chicago affiliate chapter for HWP, and we are so excited to introduce her to you! Like many women out there, Ida is juggling three kids all the while starting up the affiliate chapter- you go girl. The HWP chapter will be based primarily out of Lake Zurich, Illinois, which is a town north of metropolitan Chicago. Using her background in project managing, Ida plans to apply her skills and volunteer experience to HWP in Chicago.

How will the Chicago affiliate chapter feed off of Lansing’s chapter? Since the city of Chicago is much larger than that of Lansing, the scale of work and products that are distributed will be different. And yet, the needs of women in Chicago echo those in Lansing.  Women from here to California and back need feminine hygiene products. Period. And we are so thrilled to be expanding to Chicago to help make living without basic necessities that much easier for women. With a team of diverse backgrounds, Ida and her team members will bring their collective experiences together to make the affiliate chapter in Chicago out of this world. In Chicago, HWP will focus on first working with homeless shelters and slowly expand to involve food banks, schools and prisons. As Ida said once, it is important to bring an organization like HWP to Chicago, because it is unacceptable that the lack of feminine hygiene products is an issue in this world. And we can help, one city at a time.

The affiliate chapter kicked off with a fundraising breakfast on September 22nd. The fundraiser was a great way to introduce HWP to Chicago. Thank you to everyone who made the breakfast fundraiser in Chicago a success!

As always, check out our website to find updates on future events, ways to help, and contact information!

Success! August Product Drive!

The August product drive, which took place on Wednesday August 24th, was a huge success!

A huge thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help us- we could not have accomplished all of this amazing, good work without you!  Thank you also, to Michco, who procured over $4000 of products and to Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, who hosted our distribution site.

At the drive, we partnered with 20+ charities from around Mid-Michigan to deliver numerous cases of pads and tampons to those in need of them. What an amazing accomplishment!

Just a reminder that our next product drive will take place in November, so look out for information on that soon!

As always, check out our website for more information on upcoming events, ways to help, and how to contact us!

Our Charity Partners | Haven House

Ever wonder what charities works with Helping Women Period? Ever think “Hey, who gives the products to the women who need them?”   Well, you’re in luck!

Meet our Charity Partners!

The Haven House is family homeless shelter that helps families stabilize and find affordable housing. As a motto, they focus on “helping Lansing area families help themselves.” This organization works with families for short term housing, finding long-term housing, and providing supplies along this journey. These materials the Haven House provides families include pads and tampons that they receive from Helping Women Period. By providing products for women, Haven House can focus money in other areas for housing rehabilitation. Helping Women Period loves working with the Haven House to see the direct impact that providing pads and tampons has for families in short-term housing. Thank you to Haven House for the so so important work that happens there every day and by taking charge of the hygiene of women regardless of socioeconomic status!

If you want to donate household items and supplies to the Haven House, check out their website. They update it regularly and are always looking for supplies, especially under the “urgent needs” tab on the site.

Visit their website here!

Introducing summer intern Elena Essa.

From interviewing local charities around the Lansing area to helping out at events such as the Volunteers for America Capital Area Stand Down for Veterans, intern Elena Essa was a team member for Helping Women Period for the summer of 2016.

A current sophomore at the University of Michigan studying sustainability and energy policy, Elena has always been drawn to social activism and gender equality which is why she decided to reach out to be an intern for this past summer. She hopes to continue to use the tools she’s acquired as an intern for Helping Women Period in the future in all aspects of her life. Skills like balancing checks, doing research and conducting interviews, and maintaining social media for an organization are all things that she thought will be useful in the future and more. She believes that these skills can be put to any job, but have been especially meaningful as an intern this past summer.

Advocating for women, especially for those who cannot advocate for themselves, is something that she will continue to partake in long after her time with Helping Women Period. Thank you Elena for all of your hard work this summer! We will miss you.

Who Will Represent? Rep. Roberts Will.

Championing for women in Michigan, Representative Sarah Roberts (D-18) works to represent, fight for, and improve women’s lives.

Sarah Roberts is an advocate.

Through her work for the Michigan House of Representatives, she serves District 18 and greater Michigan for the betterment of women’s rights, education and health care.

In an interview, Helping Women Period personally asked why does Rep. Roberts focus part of her efforts on women and their lives? Knowing her statistics, Roberts stated that roughly half of Michigan’s population is women, yet only about 21 percent of people in the legislature are women. And even less are women of color. Representation in Michigan should show our state as it is: a mix of multiracial men and women that membership in the legislature should reflect. Current representation is not equal, and Sarah Roberts knows that women and their needs must be heard. She is a voice for the voiceless women in Michigan who want change.

As an example of this, Representative Roberts continues the fight on a legislative level for women and recognizing their needs. That’s why in Michigan on May 28th, 2016 and in 2015 will hence be known as Menstrual Hygiene Day in history. That’s right. In our state we celebrated women’s bodies and the menstruation inequities in communities and in laws for two years. Though Menstrual Hygiene Day was a holiday of the past, Rep. Roberts says that people can still celebrate menstrual hygiene and the effect Menstrual Hygiene Day had on Michigan. Citizens can donate to organizations that help women and help with feminine hygiene product distribution. Moreover to celebrate menstrual hygiene, people can start the conversation on menstruation to break the cycle that still considers menstruation taboo in media, some schools and even some families. Celebrating menstrual hygiene can help Michigan’s women celebrate their bodies and hopefully ripple out to the rest of the country.

Laws today regarding feminine hygiene in Michigan need to be updated because feminine hygiene products are not considered essential items and have a 6% sales tax instated. Just like an iPhone still powering on IOS 5.32 when IOS 9.3.2 is up and running, we need our laws to support women, not tax them for a natural body process. People in poverty cannot necessarily afford feminine hygiene products. They are an extra expense to budgets that are already at the bare minimum. Menstruating women in poverty may have to miss school or work because they do not have the proper products. Rep. Roberts said that one in four children in Michigan lives in poverty, and studies show that when children hear their parents fighting about needs like rent or food, they will not ask for feminine hygiene products as to not “burden” the family budget. This can lead to young women dropping school or jobs because of menstruation, or worse, leaving products like tampons in too long which can lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS can be fatal to women and should be treated seriously.

Rep. Roberts recognizes these realities, and to help impoverished women in Michigan afford feminine hygiene products, she has introduced three bills into the house. House Bills, or HB for short, 5234, 5426 and 5427 all deal with one great issue women in Michigan face: paying for feminine hygiene products. Here’s the low-down on each bill and how to make each a reality:

HB 5234 exempts feminine hygiene products from the sales tax in Michigan. Currently pads and tampons have a 6% sales tax placed on them  in Michigan, while actual non-necessities like soda and candy are not taxed. Why, you ask? Women have been asking this question for a long time, and now advocates like Rep. Roberts are fighting to eliminate the sales tax. This bill currently resides at the tax policy committee since January 26, 2016. The bill will go no further. Not without a strong push from the community will this bill become a law.

HB 5426 makes feminine hygiene products free in public school restrooms. This is an especially important bill because young girls often feel ashamed and insecure about their periods due to societal negativity about menstruation. Making these products readily available to girls in schools gives them a private and dependable way to provide good feminine hygiene without having to uncomfortably ask a teacher, coach or peer for products.

HB 5426 is currently sitting, like a couch potato who never to gets up from a really good TV show, in the government operations committee since March 3, 2016. Just like HB 5234, without community focus from those who want this bill passed, it will forever remain in government operations committee gathering dust.

HB 5427 offers feminine hygiene products free and available in women’s restrooms in state owned building. This bill is yet another way to give women the dignity of having feminine hygiene products available not as luxury items that the government insists they are, but necessities to women. This bill, just like HB 5426, is also sitting in the government operations committee since March 3, 2016.

So now that you’ve read those three synopses for the bills, you as the reader have to be wondering: How can I make these a reality? What can I do to help? Wellllll, you are in luck readers! The secret ingredient to getting these bills a hearing by their respective committees, as explained by Representative Sarah Roberts herself (Yes, I am name dropping for effect), is to reach out to these committees. Simple. Words can and do speak volumes to our lawmakers, so start typing and calling. By sending the chair of the tax policy and the government operations committees a message with your personal stories, your conviction on why these three bills should be laws, or even just calling out the audacity that these laws are being swept under the rug, you can make a difference and get a hearing for these bills. Look below for the contact information for the chair of tax policy committee, Jeff Farrington and the chair of government operations, Bradford Jacobsen.

Even at the federal level, Rep. Roberts has introduced two resolutions to Congress to make feminine hygiene products allowable under house savings accounts and flexible spending accounts. For women in poverty, every little bit of saved money helps them and their families. It is important to recognize the needs of women not just in our great state of Michigan, but also at the national level.

Take Action!

Chair of Tax Policy Committee 

Rep. Jeff Farrington

517.373.7768

JeffFarrington@house.mi.gov

Chair of Gov. Operations Committee

Rep. Bradford Jacobsen

517.373.1798

BradJacobsen@house.mi.gov

In the office, Rep. Sarah Roberts fights daily for women in Michigan. She believes in empowerment. The very core of that word defines an increase in determination. In this case Sarah Roberts uses empowerment for women, children and future generations of both to make sure each and every woman in Michigan receives the dignity of having feminine hygiene products available for her use.

Support Helping Women Period and Meet Rep. Roberts:

Want more of Sarah Roberts? You’re in luck! The Avenue Fundraiser, a Noon – 2:00 a.m. festival with women-fronted bands, a comedy show and silent auction on September 24, 2016 will be giving all proceeds to Helping Women Period. And Megan Blue, Legislative Aide  to Rep. Sarah Roberts, will make an appearance as the guest speaker. Come out and applaud their efforts , support Helping Women Period, and in general celebrate helping women. Period.

 

Avenue Fundraiser Details

Guest appearance: Megan Blue, Legislative Aide

Date: September 24th, 2016

Time: Noon-2:00 a.m.

Location: The Avenue Café, 2021 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing MI 48912

 

To learn more about representative Sarah Roberts, visit her webpage here!

As always, check out HWP’s website to find updates on future events, ways to help, and contact information!