This Giving Tuesday we’re partnering with the charitable organization #HappyPeriod to fight period poverty and stigma. #HappyPeriod’s mission is to provide menstrual health education and access to care for underserved communities. Today through December 15th, when you shop with LOLA, you can add a donation at checkout that will go directly to #HappyPeriod. These donations will help #HappyPeriod provide menstrual products and education to the people who need them most: particularly Black, LGBTQ, homeless, and low-income menstruators.
Chelsea VonChaz, the founder and CEO of #HappyPeriod, started the nonprofit in 2015 after realizing there was a lack of menstrual products and education in homeless shelters around her hometown L.A. Five years later, #HappyPeriod has expanded to support underserved communities across the country, and is launching a game-changing curriculum focused on period and sex education.
Simply put, we want to educate people on the options they have for their menstrual care.Chelsea VonChaz, founder and CEO of #HappyPeriod
Want to learn more about #HappyPeriod’s work? We spoke with Chelsea about what inspired her to start the nonprofit, why education is equally as important as product access, and where she’s taking the organization next.
For starters, we’d love to hear the founding story behind #HappyPeriod, in your words.
The “why” is because I realized that nobody cared about periods, especially when it comes to folks who are vulnerable, or experiencing homelessness, or low income. I started researching the topic and asking questions, and I found out that shelters rely on donations for period products. They’re not required to allocate any funding specifically for period products. But because nobody talks about this need, nobody actually donates period products. There’s a total lack of this basic necessity for those in need, and I just thought that was stupid.
How about the education work #HappyPeriod does? What’s the story behind that?
Simply put, we want to educate people on the options they have for their menstrual care. Anyone who follows #HappyPeriod will receive information about what a period is and how to take care of it. We lay out all the options people have, so they’re aware of their choices.
We also educate folks on how they can become more of an advocate for their bodies and health. We talk about things like how to track your period and use that information when you visit your doctor. I believe you have to teach a person how to fish, rather than just giving them the fish. And when it comes to #HappyPeriod’s work, that means we’re doing more than just donating products: we’re teaching vulnerable communities how to take care of their periods, and take charge of their overall reproductive well-being.
#HappyPeriod partners with schools to provide products and education to students. How has that work changed this year, in light of the pandemic?
There’s so much up in the air this year, and teachers’ and schools’ plans are constantly shifting. But right now #HappyPeriod is working on digitizing our educational offering so that anyone — student, teacher, parent — can learn from the website. Teachers have always been our allies; before the pandemic they were the ones who were bringing #HappyPeriod and our educational work into schools. But right now I’m hearing from teachers that they’re overwhelmed by distance learning. We want to help, and launching the digital version of our menstrual health curriculum is one of the best ways we can help schools and students at this time.
Besides digitizing the educational offering, what’s next for #HappyPeriod? Anything else in the works?
Yes! We’re going to pilot a vending machine next month that gives out free period products to anyone who needs them. It’ll also be able to receive monetary donations for #HappyPeriod. Because of COVID, we’re not able to give out donated products the way we usually do, at volunteer events. And at the same time, a lot of the ways people usually get free period products — at the gym, or school — are closed right now. So it’s generally just a lot harder for people to access free products and take care of their period. This vending machine is our answer to that problem.
A lot of the ways people usually get free period products — at the gym, or school — are closed right now. So it’s generally just a lot harder for people to access free products and take care of their period.
LOLA is doubling the impact of our community’s Giving Tuesday donations: we’ll match up to $5,000 in contributions. Join us and #HappyPeriod this year, in advancing period product access, menstrual health education, and menstrual equity. Shop here to give back.
— Photograph by Cynthia Alex