WAUKEGAN -- DAILY HERALD - Imagine facing this month's period without adequate funds to buy the necessary personal hygiene supplies.
For one in four menstruating women, this is reality. But a Lake County-based nonprofit already well-known for fighting diaper need now is prepared to help on this front as well.
Ann Marie Mathis, founder and executive director of Twice As Nice Mother & Child, said she knew that the National Diaper Bank Network had forged a partnership with the Alliance for Period Supplies in 2018.
"We applied for membership to the Alliance in March to distribute period supplies, and we were accepted," she said. "We received a huge donation from U by Kotex in mid-April, including 48,000 pads and 55,000 liners, which helped us launch our program."
As of June 1, TANMC will supply up to 50 period kits per month to its 30 local partnering agencies. Each kit contains 40 pads and 40 liners. Already, volunteers are distributing kits to those who receive services through TANMC's mobile diaper pantry program, which has grown to serve roughly 1,500 children and 1,100 families each month.
"Most people don't realize that period poverty is an issue for many women and girls," Mathis said. "The average woman spends 2,535 days on her period throughout her lifetime. For the one in four who struggles with period poverty, that's a big source of stress. It can also be unsanitary, and can prevent some women from attending classes or going to work."
Mathis said in the 10 years since she founded Twice As Nice Mother & Child, she had not been asked for period supplies until recently, during the uptick in general need that has emerged along with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"That pushed me to take a step back and think about this. Nobody around here is doing anything like this, so I saw this as an opportunity to fill a gap," she said, noting that this week is Period Poverty Awareness Week (May 25-31, 2020).
Participants in TANMC's mobile diaper program can request a period kit twice a month until supplies run out. Mobile diaper pantry program dates, hours, locations and other details are available at twiceasnicemc.org/request-assistance.
Mathis said that the gratitude of recipients was palpable when volunteers began distributing the period supply kits at mobile diaper pantry sites this month.
"This is another way for us to support our clients by meeting a basic need," she said. "We are excited about our partnership with the Alliance for Period Supplies and look forward to their continued support of our period supply program. Clearly, there is a need here in Lake County."
In its diaper program alone, TANMC has seen skyrocketing demand since March as unemployment numbers spiked upward. Current distribution is nearly 90,000 diapers per month. Those in a position to help are encouraged to visit twiceasnicemc.org, where cash donations are accepted via PayPal. People also can shop TANMC's wish list on Amazon and have items shipped to the organization's Oak Grove Avenue address in Waukegan.
Cash donations are always greatly appreciated, Mathis said, as TANMC is able to purchase diapers at a discount through its National Diaper Bank Network membership.