Lynette Medley knows that women experiencing period poverty and cannot afford products like pads and tampons can often feel powerless.
“They feel powerless because they don’t have the information,” said Medley, who founded No More Secrets, Mind Body Spirit, Inc. to provide women in need with menstrual supplies.
“They don’t have the resources and people really don’t listen to their authentic experiences and voices. They kind of suffer in silence.”
No More Secrets MBS rolled out the “Power a Period” campaign to empower, educate and drive donations to help women impacted by period poverty. The initiative gives five local women who suffered from period poverty an online platform to share their personal stories.
The effort comes as one in four people with periods have missed school or work during their cycle because they didn’t have menstrual products.
Medley said she thinks many of the campaigns driven by other period poverty organizations are very ambiguous and they don’t highlight women who are impacted.
“You never see the real people because many of them don’t touch real people like our organization does,” she said.
“I was intentional about giving the power back to the real people. This is really highlighting the experiences of poor individuals who have been in period poverty and have benefited from our services.”
One of these women is Emmelinda Martin, a 33-year-old Philadelphia native. Martin used toilet paper and socks during her period when she lived in group homes during her teens and lacked access to sanitary pads.
“I never knew that any of those supplies even existed because they weren’t presented to me,” she said.
Martin appreciated being able to participate in the campaign that launched in time for National Period Day, observed Sunday.
“It’s a lot of people who are afraid to talk — who are afraid to tell their story,” she said. “It’s OK to express it. No one should be judging. Everybody has a story. I know that everyone went through something.”
Medley and her daughter Nya McGlone founded No More Secrets MBS in 2012, to focus on delivering menstrual products to women in need. They’ve seen an uptick in the need for their services when the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
A 2019 survey of 1,000 teens conducted by nonprofit organization PERIOD and period solutions company THINX indicated that one in five teenagers have struggled to afford pads and tampons and one in four have missed class because they did not have access to period products.
In February, No More Secrets, MBS opened the SPOT Period, a Germantown-based menstrual hub that offers menstrual hygiene products, toiletry items, menstrual health education, community resources and a computer center.
“All of the things that people need so that they can live in dignity,” Medley said, noting that the hub serves more than 100 individuals per day.