On an unseasonably cold night last October, a local homeless woman tried to escape the frigid temps by hanging out in the lobby of a local business. She sat on a couch in that lobby until the business' security guard asked her to leave. But when she stood up, her clothes and the couch were stained with blood. The woman was on her period and apparently did not have hygiene products.
The security guard told the woman he was calling the police to file a report about the damaged couch, and he advised her to leave so she wouldn't be in trouble for trespassing. But the woman opted to stay and wait for police. She said she'd rather go to jail and get a chance to clean up and change clothes.
When Memphian Eli Cloud heard this story, she had to do something. So she and her friend Nikii Richey launched Sister Supply
, a nonprofit that will provide homeless women with feminine hygiene products (pads and tampons) and underwear.
“My heart broke when I heard this woman’s story. I could not stop wondering 'What do homeless women do during their period?' After talking to shelters and community outreach organizations in Memphis, an unsettling truth was revealed to me. Many women & adolescent girls living in Memphis do not have access to these female-specific essentials, forcing them to improvise or go without,” said Cloud.
The organization has launched an ioby.org campaign
to raise money for their efforts. Tax-deductible donations can be made there through April 15th, and ioby will match donations up to $150. Funds raised will be used to purchase hygiene products, which will be distributed to local homeless women through shelters and community outreach programs.
Sister Supply is also asking manufacturers of hygiene products to donate products. And they're asking supporters to hold hygiene product drives. Inquiries about holding drives can be made on the ioby site.