May 1, 2017

#HappyPeriod Social Movement Assists Those in Need

The #HappyPeriod social movement and nonprofit began in 2015 in California by Chelsea Vonchaz and her mother to assist women in “homeless, low-income, and/or living in poverty” by providing female hygiene products.

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Recently one of the newer chapters #HappyPeriodDetroit teamed up with the Youth of Ummah (YOU) youth group in Warren, Mich. for the chapter’s first packing party and hygiene kit drive to prepare 301 kits of one-cycle’s worth of pads, tampons, panty liners to provide the less fortunate a chance at living life in dignity.

Collectively over three months #HappyPeriodDetroit’s founder Jessica Marie Bertollini, 28, of Farmington Hills, and volunteers collected $1,100 in monetary and product donations. Jessica began her journey with the group last year after feeling the need to do more in the community. “I saw an article on Facebook about Chelsea, the founder of HP and immediately felt drawn to the organization.” After giving her first donation, she asked how she could open a local chapter. “What I love about #HappyPeriod is the support and comradery it encourages among women.”

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Jessica’s best friend Danielle Poulin, 29, from Sterling Heights, was also drawn to the cause for its simplicity to give back and raise awareness about the taboo topic of periods. Danielle said, everyone donates food and clothes but shelters never have enough of female hygiene products. “No one wants to feel dirty, when they don’t have something as simple as a pad,” she said.

In a brochure about #HappyPeriod it says, “Sanitary items are the most needed yet least donated for the homeless population with periods.”

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I met Jessica through a mutual friend from college who introduced us on Facebook after I posted a video about the challenges of being on your period while homeless. I asked Facebook friends, what can we do about this locally? As a mother of three young children, I often felt disconnected and unable to volunteer at long events. #HappyPeriod resonated and sounded easy enough: collect, advertise, donate and distribute.

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The process goes like this: People can contact #HappyPeriod through the website. Local chapters look for a host and space to create an event for drop-offs and packaging. Jessica said there have been multiple online only events via Facebook, in which products are mailed to her or a hostess’s home. Jessica then sorts through the materials and delivers them to local shelters. Collections take place throughout the year.

YOU Outreach Coordinator Mehruba Akter, 26, was one of the people who helped collect products at the Islamic Organization of North America, where the packing party took place, and helped purchase products with the monetary donations. Mehruba asked people to give however they could, even if that meant she had to pick up items from people’s door. “We emptied three CVS’s,” she later told me. “We strive to ensure that we play our part as Muslims…to make a positive impact on the community,” Mehruba said.

The remaining products of wipes, women’s underwear, pads, tampons, soap and more were put into 12 tall garbage bags to distribute to shelter homes as needed.

To get involved in the movement donate online at hashtaghappyperiod.org or contact Jessica Bertollini at happyperioddetroit@gmail.com for drop-off locations and events in Michigan, and follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreHappyPeriodDetroit/. 

Donations are tax-deductible. 

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

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