Support the Girls
A woman shouldn’t have to choose between feeding herself and her personal health
Support the Girls collects and distributes donations of new and gently used bras, and individually sealed tampons and maxi pads to women and girls nationally and internationally. Whether they are homeless, refugees, in transitional housing, or fleeing domestic violence. Women and girls should never have to compromise on dignity.
Women and girls who find themselves homeless shouldn’t have to worry about finding bras. Much less proper menstrual products. Yet they wear the same bra for years. Potentially causing health problems, and each month have to make a choice between paying for meals or buying a box of tampons.
Every woman should have the ability to maintain her dignity!
This is their mission- to restore dignity and self-respect to women. To date, they have helped more than 180,000 girls and women retain their dignity. They have done this by collecting 350,000 bras and 1,800,000 menstrual hygiene products. Hence distributing them worldwide to 350 vetted shelters and organizations.
Conceived by Dana Marlowe. Business owner, mother, human rights advocate. ‘I Support the Girls’ beginnings were totally serendipitous. Dana became an accidental activist in this space.
In 2015, during a year of revised healthy mind/body focus. Dana dropped a considerable amount of weight by working out with friends, and eating healthy fun meals with my family. She expected some life changes, but not that everything would change in size. They didn’t tell Dana on the packages of steamed vegetables that you should prepare for your bra size to decrease. After some loose straps getting in the way, she went to get fitted properly at a bra store. She asked the store clerk if she had any donation suggestions as to what I could do with my dozen or more used bras that didn’t fit, but were still wearable.
She informed me that women who are homeless are in desperate need of bras. Most people donate clothes, shoes, furniture, which is of course very important. However, rarely donated but frequently requested: bras.
She knew other women must do this and relegate their older bras to the background to put the newer ones up front. Then, in the throes of the summer of 2015, Dana chanced upon an article hearkening a similar topic and mentioning the huge need for bras and menstrual hygiene products for homeless women and girls. Since you never know a person’s situation and most women have menstrual cycles. It’s natural they would need menstrual hygiene products. That was her inspiration. Dana was humbled and wanted to make sure no woman could do without menstrual products or a bra at any point of need in her life. Dignity is dignity.
One shouldn’t have to weigh the value of a sandwich over a maxi pad
They are both important. So how could Dana help? Why not ask friends and their friends for used bras and new sealed packages of tampons and maxi pads? See wanted to see what this could turn into. She wasn’t expecting that moment to become a movement, an idea to become a passion project. Then again, Dana should have anticipated the goodness in people’s hearts to give to a cause that helps low income women in their communities in such a relatable way.
An Idea Was Born
Dana asked friends to go to their top dresser drawer, find bras they never wear and let her donate them. And while you’re at it, she said, next time you’re at the pharmacy or grocery store and see a “buy one get one” for maxi pads – pick up an extra package and toss it in the donation. She asked her friends, who asked their friends, who asked their friends.
And it took off. Personal donations poured in. Bigger collections started rolling in from yoga studios, schools, coffee shops, churches, seminaries, hospitals. Then the Marriott Corporation, the United Stated Department of Agriculture, the FDA, Quicken Loans, the State Department.
Boxes from as far away as France, Hong Kong and the UK, were delivered to her house. Breast cancer survivors who’d endured double mastectomies sent bags of their old bras. She got packages from men whose wives had passed away, women who’d lost their mothers, and so on.
An Overwhelming Response
The overall response has been OVERWHELMINGLY positive and amazing. As mentioned in maxipads and bras are a luxury for homeless women that month, “A slip of a garment, bras are one of the many small luxuries that most women take for granted. But like underwear, pads, and tampons, they can be nearly impossible for homeless women to get. And if you don’t have these things, you think about it all the time.”
As a staunch human rights advocate and the president of a dynamite company called Accessibility Partners that hires people with disabilities to help make technology like websites and mobile apps more accessible and usable for people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often some of the most invisible, marginalized populations overlooked by mainstream society. Among that demographic Dana wanted her workplace advocacy to transcend into a new network: homeless and low income women. Breaking down taboos and stereotypes has been part of what she’s been doing for 20 years. This is another important population.
With I Support the Girls, they’ve been talking non-stop. It is a conversation that has flourished across the United States and now globally. Their vast network of volunteers stands up for women by donating the bras and hygiene products to promote a more healthy and dignified lifestyle. With the tremendous supply of these products and the high demand, it felt right to marry the two. In just over a year, they’ve built out an infrastructure. I Support the Girls is creating a national clearing house to encourage affiliates to collect locally and distribute locally in their communities.
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