JUST DO YOUR PART
Story By – Ashley L Eubanks
So many times we will see an issue on the news or hear a story about a problem but we’ll just shrug it off. In my life I’ve always been a person that kind of stayed in my own lane. If asked for help, I will be 100% ready. But if not I strived everyday to be the best person I could be. Until one day, my life changed. After volunteering to teach beauty to women transitioning from homelessness and high school girls my compassion for helping grew. I wanted to share my passion for beauty that I began a nonprofit, The Beauty Initiative.
My hope was to teach the females in our workshops the true definition of beauty. Yet on the way home after work I noticed a homeless woman panhandling and when she turned around I noticed her pants was soiled with blood. She was on her menstrual cycle. It poised the question “what do Homeless Women do when they’re monthly cycle comes on?” After much research from traveling to over 6 facilities in my tricounty area I learned that this is one of the least given items and most had nothing to offer the women in need. Working as an educator I concluded that some schools in my area were also turning students away, so I had to take action.
For my 30th birthday I forfeited my plans to travel internationally to ask my family, friends, and social media following to donate tampons and sanitary pads. On my birthday we collected over 15,000 items and prepared over 400 bags of hygiene necessities. I felt my job was done.
The next month I received a call from a shelter wanting to request more! My Father encouraged me to continue. This past August on my 31st birthday we packed 45,000 items to distribute. In one year my team and I have hosted 11 “Pads n Pons Parties” featuring live music, food, giveaways and of course packing of menstrual items. Our bright blue bags have been packed with more than 130,000 items at over 14 colleges in the state of Florida, 9 churches, 4 schools, and by over 200+ volunteers. On a monthly basis we distribute hundreds of individual items and continue to spread the word of the importance of hygiene no matter your financial circumstance.
At times I ask “how did I get to become the Pad Lady?!” But I’m thankful that the women and girls in schools will never go without products. Every time i asked why and how I work so hard, i mention “I’m just doing my part”. One of my friends even got it on a t-shirt for me! Year one was amazing but I believe if I continue to “do my part” and encourage everyone else to do theirs the world will be a better place.
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