Let's Talk about Period Poverty
April 15, 2021 by Megan
When Rogue Heart is faced with rare free time or unclaimed capacity, we pour that available energy into our nonprofit partners. These opportunities are joyful, spontaneous, and fit right in with our values of leveraging for good, living adventurously, and celebrating people. At the tail end of a tough, slow, and COVID-rattled winter, we had such an opportunity arise in February 2021, to lift up a vibrant and collaborative community effort that addresses basic needs for women experiencing homelessness: namely, collecting menstrual and hygiene products, as well as undergarments for simple self-care.
Mardi Bras, named after the spirit of Mardi Gras, is a collaborative, annual fundraiser and “friendraiser” hosted by Transitions and Volunteers of America. The pandemic made it necessary to pivot planning from in-person events to a drive-thru donation drop off. We met up with Sarah, Transitions’ Development Director, outside of Women’s Hearth to discuss the needs faced by women experiencing homelessness in our community in a brief video interview – an interview outside in the cold in order to talk freely without a mask. Sarah gave us her blessing to promote and participate in Mardi Bras because together we believed a shareable video would rally awareness and connect people to the cause in a year that the event looked entirely different.
Transitions is very dear to our hearts because this organization specifically supports ending homelessness and poverty for women and children in Spokane. They do this through integrity, by meeting people where they are, and with compassion towards the myriad circumstances which land individuals in difficult situations. It was awesome to see the impact of yet another one of their collaborative initiatives in this city, and we look forward to spending more time with them and the community they’ve built at Women’s Hearth in the future.
Mardi Bras has loyal supporters that love to have parties. Ladies usually gather with girlfriends, enjoy festive refreshments, and collect hygiene donations for the cause. This collection includes critical items such as bras, tampons, underwear, and deodorant. As we all experienced during quarantine, in-person gathering wasn’t possible. But that didn’t stop Transitions, Volunteers of America, or their supporters. They created ways to make the event fun with balloons, decorations, selfies and safety measures.
For us, we decided to get dramatic with a spontaneous photo shoot and promote a casual drop-off opportunity at the studio. It was our chance to play with lighting techniques, a long-cherished mask from New Orleans, and our willing teammate Jazmine to create an eye-catching series to share the event on our Rogue Heart channels.
Storytelling and awareness building around this community need was a surprising and stirring opportunity for our team. We came together in a team meeting and expressed our own experiences with deep empathy for what it would feel like to be unable to effectively manage menstruation with dignity. Or to consistently face “period poverty.” We talked about collecting items and discussing Mardi Bras with friends and partners – turns out a few of the men in our lives were quite surprised by the expense and variety of products when they joined us on shopping trips. It was valuable to talk openly about these topics – a bonus to an already enriching experience – producing the Mardi Bras video promotion and participating in the donation drive.
Along with our donated video production, Rogue Heart Media collected 7 bras, 5 underwear, 78 tampons, and 149 pads to add to the Mardi Bras collection. Thanks to all of our friends and partners who donated, and we look forward to doing so again next year! 🧡
When girls and women can comfortably manage menstruation it increases access to education, employment, transportation, and other opportunities – and Mardi Bras is the local response to removing this obstacle at home in Spokane. During this time, with restricted gatherings and lost connections, it was incredibly valuable to come together and give what we could as a team. Which is a feeling we saw mirrored in the amazing turnout for the event, despite its move to virtual parties and drive-through drop offs – we are so proud to be part of such a generous community. Mardi Bras was one more event whose “usual way of doing things” was disrupted. Regardless, people showed up, and are still showing up. We all know this as an ongoing need.
For Spokane’s Mardi Bras, we say Laissez les bons temps rouler!