Period poverty remains an issue in Massachusetts, now a church is taking on the inequalities associated with menstruation


Like many churches, St. John’s in Hingham has worshiped from afar. But that hasn’t stopped the church from expanding its ministries.

But it’s not about homelessness, education, food trips or even the pandemic, as one can expect from a church. They talk about periods.

“I’ve never said the word menstruation as often as in the past few weeks,” said Rev. Tim Schenck, adding that he realized that it was probably irritating to some when he first mentioned it. “Once you get over the initial shock of me talking about menstruation in church, I think that removes the stigma and that is one of the things we really hope for.”

St. John’s started a program called Free.This helps “deliver menstrual hygiene products to those in need on the south coast”.

“Products that support this biological function are an additional expense for many who are already financially insecure. These products are not covered by services ”, so the website Conditions. “This gap in needs and coverage is another barrier to education and employment equality, as many are forced to miss school or work during their time.”

The organization is partnered with Top organic from Duxbury, which Free allows. Use donations to receive discounted bulk orders for pads, tampons, liners, and underwear. In addition, the organization can adapt orders to the needs in the region.

For example, Kenzie Blackwell said, people often prefer tampons to tampons because they last longer, while “using a tampon for too long can put you at risk of toxic shock syndrome.”

Most people may not think about it when buying for themselves, she said, “because we have the privilege of not having to think about it [it]. ”

However, it is also important to provide these choices and open conversations around the topic.

“It’s not something anyone ever wants to talk about,” said Bryna Rogers, community relations and development at Bay State Community Services, one of St. John’s partners on the project. “It’s not even something that many of our customers will bring up about the shame people feel at times.”

St. John’s started a new ministry called Free. to contribute to the fight against poverty in the period.

The idea for the program started when Blackwell, when she and her daughter were helping to help Hope and comfort in Framingham.

“It was like a mountain of shampoo and toothpaste and deodorant,” she said. “Then there was a tiny pile of menstrual products.”

Then she found out about it Time povertyThis is “inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and training, including but not limited to toiletries, laundry facilities, and waste disposal,” according to the American Medial Women’s Association.

When researching the subject, she Googled, “What to do if you can’t afford a pad?” One “homemade” answer that Search gave her was to use a sock wrapped in toilet paper.

“Just remember, having to use that answer to get through a day of school,” she said.

And, said Rogers, it’s not a one-off problem. It happens every month.

“There are many in our church who don’t get sick days. They don’t get paid time off. If you can’t go to work, you don’t get paid, which means you can’t support yourself or your family, ”said Rogers. “Sometimes it means that you are giving up food to support your family or yourself so that you can afford to buy those products.”

Blackwell knew she couldn’t go home and do nothing.

“Hygiene products across the board, deodorant, shampoo and menstrual hygiene products are not included in any services. This is an additional menstrual expense in addition to shampoo, soap and toothpaste, ”she said. “If you have a female executive household with a few teenagers, it can add up quickly.”

She began to investigate the distress in her area.

“There is a lot of need here that I call a hidden need because the humility around the subject prevents too many from asking for help,” she said. “There are several organizations in the state that are dealing with this, but most of them target the Boston Metro, Metro West, and the North Shore. And as far as I know, there isn’t much existence on the south coast. “

The pandemic has only increased that need, she added.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans must cover doctor-related visits Birth control and can cover the cost of birth control pills. Dependent For birth control, this can affect the measurement.

A number of bills have also tried to address the problem of poverty in time, including increasingly Access to single-use menstrual products in prisons, homeless shelters, and public schools.

One of bills has a hearing for June.

“I want to be out of business,” she said. “I don’t want to do this because this is something that shouldn’t even be in need.”

Although, Blackwell said, even if she is taken out of business, her next focus would be on further normalizing these types of conversations.

Free.  helps fight poverty in time

St. John’s started a new ministry called Free. to contribute to the fight against poverty in the period.

For Schenck, however, it is also an issue for the church.

“We vow to respect the dignity of every human being,” he said. “It’s about loving our neighbors, and if this is at the heart of our work as a denomination, how can we not ensure that biological function is not an obstacle to full and fruitful life?”

The theme is based on justice and justice, he said, two issues that the church is addressing.

“If we as a church cannot fight these kinds of problems, even if it makes us a little uncomfortable, what do we do?” he asked.

But churches are not known to be open to sex, the body, and menstruation. Although they should be, said Schenck.

“It’s a biological need,” he said. “It’s part of what God created us to be.”

So he plans to keep talking about it.

“Talking about it very openly and frankly means normalizing yourself, normalizing it in terms of conversation and need, and emphasizing that this problem is there,” he said.

Although, as Rogers admits, these conversations are not unique to the Church.

“There is generally some shame associated with having a period,” Rogers said, adding that it can even be in safe places, such as talking to friends and family.

For this reason, a small fundraiser would not be enough. Schenck said it had to be a full service.

“It’s not a short-term problem,” he said. “We hope that this project will be embedded in our community here and on the south coast in the long term.”

They also hope they can inspire others in the United States. Blackwell has spoken to people across the country who want to do something similar.

“It can be a ministry accepted by anyone who wants to serve their church or their church where the free can be seen. Logo, and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is a safe place to ask about products. I can get help here, ”she said. “There’s a lot of power in that.”

The problem, said Rogers, is not necessary in any other country or city. It happens all over the US. But often because of the shame, grassroots organizations are needed to fix the problem.

And that’s exactly what Blackwell does.

“I just have 8,300 pads, tampons, and panty liners in my dining room,” she said.

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