Teen’s nonprofit to help women obtain hygiene products
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Watching a video featuring a homeless woman rolling up toilet paper to use as a makeshift menstrual pad triggered outrage for Tatiana Chance.
The 17-year-old couldn’t imagine dealing with a menstrual cycle every month without being able to afford tampons or pads, so she decided to take action.
The New Technology High School senior is in the early stages of forming a nonprofit reorganization called Help 4 Huhas, with the goal of getting necessary feminine hygiene products to homeless and financially unstable women in Sioux Falls, the Argus Leader reported.
“Tampons or pads are 7 to 10 dollars a box,” Chance said. “It’s women having to decide if they want food or wanting to be clean.”
The idea to gather and distribute period products started about a year ago, when Chance saw a video from Bustle that showed how some homeless women cope with their periods.
She put out a call on social media, asking friends on Snapchat and Facebook if they would be interested in donating products. The response was inspiring.
“People want to help. They just don’t know how,” Chance said.
The thought to create a legitimate nonprofit came from a national period product company.
Chance reached out to Kotex, Always and DivaCup to ask for their help. Kotex responded, saying they can’t help unless it was part of a legitimate nonprofit organization, Chance said.
“I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to do that,’ ” Chance said.
Since then, she’s been meeting with attorneys, researching what forms she needs to fill out and raising money for startup costs. She’s already started receiving donations of tampons, pads and bags to make period kits.
Chance didn’t realize the amount of homeless or financially unstable people in Sioux Falls until the Bishop Dudley House and other local shelter organizations presented to her school.
The St. Francis House can house 46 women. On an average month, they can go through more than 1,500 tampons, said executive director Julie Becker. While the St. Francis House is a transitional facility, Becker said she has seen some women come in from the street seeking feminine products.
“It’s part of the basic life needs we all need,” Becker said. “How can you function when you’re concerned (about your period)?”
If women don’t have adequate products, they must deal with the task of cleaning themselves up, something not easy without access to a shower, laundry machines or another set of clothes.
The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House offers products and laundry services, but even then, it can be difficult for women to schedule laundry, and even a bit embarrassing to ask for tampons or pads.
“It’s embarrassing to say, ‘I don’t have enough money to buy tampons,’ ” said Amanda Stidd, development coordinator for the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House. “People don’t want to say that out loud, but it’s a very real issue. A woman can’t go without that.”
Chance is hoping to get more people talking about the issue while taking care of the people in need.
“Menstruation is kind of a taboo subject,” Chance said. “If you don’t talk about this, you don’t know about this issue, and you don’t know about their struggle.”
The New Technology student is tackling the task of starting a nonprofit on top of her senior year studies, theater group, real estate class and preparing for life after graduation.
“I thought she’d spend most of her time planning her graduation party, but she’s really passionate about helping people,” Chance’s mother, Stacey Harris, said.
Harris, who owns New You Infrared Sauna and Spa, is donating commissions she would get from her beauty product counter to her daughter’s startup fees. She’s also giving discounts to those who send in products for her daughter’s cause.
“Tatiana has a huge heart,” Harris said. “She’s only 17. I’m so proud of her and the woman she’s growing into.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com