It was a cold, fall evening in Harlem when I stepped out of the grocery store, carrying one bag in either hand and dangling two more off of my wrists. As I waddled down the street, a woman approached me asking for help. She was hungry and just wanted two cheeseburgers from McDonald’s, one for dinner and one for breakfast the next day. I agreed to buy her some food while balancing my grocery bags. After handing her the cheeseburgers, she suddenly started to explain how she’d been cooped up inside her assisted housing unit all day, unable to move because she had her period and was bleeding “everywhere,” and the food pantries never seem to have enough tampons. Luckily, I found a tampon in my bag that I was able to give to her and we parted ways.
At the time of this incident, #HappyPeriod was already almost a year old and I had volunteered at one or two events in New York. I was first in contact with the organization’s founder, Chelsea VonChaz, back in 2015 when I was hosting a screening of a web series I created called Period Drama, a sketch comedy series about women on their periods in different time periods. Since Chelsea was based in L.A., I happily stayed in touch with her and helped her facilitate drives in NYC when she was unable to be there. Now, I run the NYC chapter and the rest is herstory.
The mission of #HappyPeriod is to provide menstrual products to anyone with a period that has low-income, is homeless, or living in poverty. We believe that no one should go without menstrual care. Everything we do, we believe in ending the stigma and breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation. The organization now has over 30 chapters across the U.S. with events happening every month, for anyone who would like to get involved. I personally run the NYC chapter and work to organize at least one drive or event per month. We collect donations of pads, tampons, panty liners, soaps, wipes and underwear and pack them into kits to be handed out to those in need or delivered to shelters to be distributed among their clients. It is important to remember that not all women menstruate, and not all those who menstruate identify as women. We make sure to include the LGBTQ community in our outreach when distributing period kits to those in need.
If you are a person who has a period, I’m sure you are well aware of the stigma that still exists to this day in regards to our lovely Aunt Flo. While the term "menstrual equity" has been adapted by many activists and policy makers as of late, our work won’t be complete until all menstruators have the ability to manage their periods through cost-effective and safe options. If you’re interested in getting involved with a #HappyPeriod chapter near you, or starting a new chapter in your own city, please visit our Website or social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
To follow the NYC chapter specifically, you can find us through our Facebook and Instagram pages. Please also feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always welcoming new ambassadors to work with our chapters and would love to meet and break taboos with you! And please rest assured that you certainly do not have to have a period in order to volunteer with us. :)
Love & Light,
#HappyPeriod NYC Lead Ambassador