Southcoast Donation Nets 18,000 Hygiene Products

Southcoast Health Donation Drive Nets 18,000 Menstrual Hygiene Products

During a weeklong drive from April 30 to May 9, Southcoast employees donated more than 18,000 individual menstrual hygiene products to benefit the Justice Flow Advocacy Project. The donation drive, held in partnership with the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts, was co-led by the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Council and the Community Benefits Department (Southcoast Cares). The project makes menstrual hygiene products available to those in need, and educates youth and adults on menstrual health, access and equity.

“Southcoast employees responded very enthusiastically. We placed 70 donation bins throughout our hospitals, medical practices, and offices, and they just kept filling up! We’re so appreciative of everyone’s support and generosity,” says Lauren De Simon Johnson, SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer. Employees were also able to buy products online and have them sent directly to YWCA.

In addition to direct contributions by their employees, Southcoast Women’s Care in Fall River itself also donated. Debra Rouke, Office Manager at the practice, says the OB/GYN practice donated $100 worth of products.

No woman or girl should have to do without hygiene products because of cost

“No woman or girl should have to do without hygiene products because of cost,” she says. “We really appreciated joining the project and were very happy to do our part.”

Many youth in New Bedford and across southeastern Massachusetts experience Period Poverty, which is defined by poor access to menstrual hygiene products and lack of menstrual knowledge, states the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts’ Menstrual Advocacy Access Project.

The YWCA cites a survey of 285 individuals in New Bedford in which over 60% of those surveyed reported missing school or work because they didn’t have access to menstrual products, with many saying they felt humiliation because of this lack of access. Addressing Period Poverty can prevent girls and women missing work or school days each month, which can have adverse consequences.   

The cost for menstrual hygiene products is not covered by insurance and they are subject to sales tax. There are no government assistance programs to help offset the cost of purchasing these products – SNAP, WIC, or Medicaid do not pay for them.

UNICEF, a global nonprofit that serves disadvantaged children and adolescents worldwide, says menstruation is stigmatized all over the world. According to a UNICEF press release, FAST FACTS: Nine things you didn’t know about menstruation, “Girls and women with disabilities and special needs face additional challenges with menstrual hygiene and are affected disproportionately with lack of access to toilets with water and materials to manage their period.”

The donation will benefit youth and young adults throughout the community

Because of the size of Southcoast’s donation, many youth and young adults throughout the community will benefit. Menstrual products are made available to individuals in need through a variety of outlets. In New Bedford, they include the local non-profit Diapers ’N Things, which serves about 20 women each week, the New Bedford Immigrant Support Network, and New Bedford area schools, to name a few. Weekly deliveries are also made to families served by the YWCA, many of whom are former or current Girls Exclusive members. This summer, products will be given out at free lunch spots through New Bedford Parks & Recreation. The YWCA also plans to distribute products to the Fall River and Wareham areas as well.   

“It was such a great success, we hope to hold the donation drive again in the future,” says Kris Aimone, Southcoast’s Wellbeing & Engagement Program Manager.