Lansing nonprofit provide assistance to homeless women will remain

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Women who have already asked, "Do you have a tampon?" in a low voice will understand.

There is a sister who even sends strangers to the rescue, searching the bottom of their purse.

Four years ago, two friends from the Lansing area took advantage of this universal link to launch the period of assistance to nonprofit women. It aims to provide low-income or homeless women, girls and some transgender men with the goods they need.

It was supposed to be a unique fundraiser for a single shelter, but the nonprofit took a life of its own. It now stores 129 sites such as schools, shelters and food chests in four counties and has exceeded one million items distributed.

"We can all imagine not having the product we need and that down feeling – it's so reliable.We had a huge reaction," said Lysne Tait, co-executive director of the company. Association, at the Lansing State Journal.

Tait is a former DeWitt English teacher, also known as one of the founders of the popular networking group Not Your Mother's Facebook, which has 17,000 subscribers. She says she is a professional volunteer.

She read an article in the Huffington Post about homeless women who could not afford feminine hygiene products, which can easily cost between $ 8 and $ 10 a month. She tried to imagine what it would be month after month and posted the article on her Facebook page.

Meanwhile, one of his acquaintances at Okemos, Amy Stephenson, read and posted the same article. It was about one o'clock on January 14, 2015.

Stephenson said she could understand women's sense of panic and loss of dignity.

She is Marketing Director for East Lansing's Willingham & Cote Law Firm, and she knew Tait because they both had children at a school in Okemos Montessori.

Both started to discuss the subject. They decided that they should do something.

They wanted to organize a breakfast with friends and ask for donations to store products at Haven House, a family shelter in East Lansing.

"We thought we had breakfast and come back to our lives," laughs Stephenson.

"Oh, my faith, it's not what we expected," Tait agreed.

They were overwhelmed by the reaction: 70 people attended their first breakfast. The fifth annual breakfast to come should attract more than 125 donors. The pair calls in the field, a few a week, people from around the world who want to launch similar charities.

Stephenson will soon receive the Community Service Award from the Greater Lansing Chamber of Commerce.

There is a taboo on the subject they have tried to attack.

"People do not like talking about rules," said Tait.

Stephenson said it changed. She notes that the youngest are more open to frank discussion without embarrassment.

Women support legislation to eliminate the so-called "stamp tax" that would eliminate Michigan's 6% sales tax on feminine hygiene products. Ten states eliminated the "pink tax", joining the five states without any sales tax.

The legislation barely moved in the last session, but the bills were reintroduced in Lansing during this session. Stephenson believes that the more feminine composition of the legislature could help them pass.

Tait and Stephenson also support the development of federal nutrition, WIC and food assistance programs to cover feminine hygiene products and diapers, items hard to afford for low-income families.

Helping Women Period got the help of a cleaning company, MichCo, which buys the products at cost price. Storage Sense donated a unit of 10 feet by 15 feet in the Old City to store the products until their delivery. Before that, boxes were stored in car trunks, said Tait. In addition to tampons and towels, they offer wipes, incontinence pads and pantiliners.

The group has about 15 volunteers and several sewing groups that create colorful bags to hold the products – enough for 20 towels and 20 pads to cover one month of menstruation per person.

The group has grown so much with the help of all the volunteers that Tait and Stephenson are considering recruiting a paid staff member to coordinate donations, volunteers and deliveries.

Volunteers say they want to help others because they can remember not having the products when they need them or not being able to buy them.

"I'm in that position," said Toni Coloagross, a Delta Township volunteer, who helps deliver the products. "Buy milk or buy tampons?"

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Information provided by: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com

An AP member exchange shared by the Lansing State Journal.