UPICares and Kennedy & Co. Partner to Help Women
By Jessica Lay
Aug. 29, 2018
UPICares and Kennedy and Co. recently co-hosted a happy hour fundraiser for BRAWS, a local organization that provides feminine care products, bras, and underwear to women, children, and students who cannot make the items a budgetary priority.
Those who attended the event in the swanky Georgetown district of Washington, D.C., contributed $560, 10 bras, three pairs of adult underwear, and 26 pairs of children’s underwear. Nineteen boxes of tampons and 10 boxes of pads were also collected, making for a total of 1,034 menstrual hygiene products!
Menstrual inequity effects many populations including (but not limited to) incarcerated women, those that are homeless or living under the poverty line, survivors of domestic abuse, people that are transgender or non-conforming, and youth in schools.
Although the law recently changed in Virginia, women in prisons often do not have access to menstrual supplies and often cannot afford to buy those in the commissary. Those within the prison system or those that are homeless/low-income tend to resort to making their own menstrual devices from low-quality supplies. Forced non-hygienic practices can lead to infection and sometimes serious health implications.
According to United Way, 30% of our region’s residents are liquid asset poor. That means that many families in D.C. do not have the means to cover basic necessities if faced with job loss for three or more months. Often, this can mean that access to basic necessities like menstrual supplies and underwear is impossible. Some low-income people resort to selling their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, forgoing meals in order to buy menstrual supplies.
Those fleeing domestic violence circumstances have the potential to lose access to supplies and resources in the process. Due to demand, shelters for survivors of domestic violence often are ill-equipped to provide necessities on a month-to-month basis. Absence of these basics can hinder the survivor’s ability to find gainful employment, continue their education, or re-enter the community with confindence.
Complications to access of menstrual products is heightened for transgender or gender non-conforming students and adults who are forced to use ill-stocked non-gender neutral bathrooms. From fearing for personal safety while opening a pad or tampon inside a male-designated bathroom, to the wage gap that trans and non-binary people experience in the workforce, basic dignities go to the wayside.
For many children in public schools, the absence of menstrual supplies can lead to missing up to a week of classes every month.
Legislation surrounding menstrual equity in schools has been largely non-existent. According to the BRAWS Report on Menstrual Inequity. However, California, Connecticut, the D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan, New York City and State, South Carolina, and Tennessee have passed legislation in order to provide menstrual products free of charge to students in school. These jurisdictions are expecting an increase in attendance directly related to their efforts. Jurisdictions report 2.4% increase in student attendance after implementation of these programs.
“We’re not talking about rocket ships; we’re talking about sanitary pads. Yet they both have the same effect. They take you places.” -Diana Sierra, Founder BeGirl2
Donations from last weeks event will be handed out at United Way’s Project Homeless Connect event on September 20th at the DC Armory. BRAWS is expecting 400 or more homeless women and girls to attend in search of supplies. If you or your company would be interested in volunteering at this event, please contact a BRAWS volunteer coordinator at info@BRAWS.org.
BRAWS, UPICares, and Kennedy & Co. formed a great partnership to provide hope, dignity, and resources to those in need. A full report on Menstrual Inequity can be read here.
Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative. She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.
Kennedy & Co Says Bring Your BRAWS to Our Home
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Madeline Middlebrook
Phone: (703) 772-1136
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 10, 2018) – Kennedy & Co., a woman owned and operated, boutique real estate agency based in Georgetown, D.C. is partnering with UPIC Health in a “Sip & Support” happy hour event to support a local organization that collects and distributes supplies to D.C. metro-area women in need.
The Aug. 24 event is the first non-profit night of this kind hosted by Kennedy & Co. at its 1231 Potomac St. NW location. The Sip and Support happy hour aims to collect donations in the form of cash, boxes of unopened feminine hygiene products, and new bras and underwear with tags that will be distributed by BRAWS, which “believes all women and girls should have access to tampons and pads in public restrooms, schools, shelters and jails.”
“This happy hour event is a way for our company to show support for women looking to rebuild their lives. We are so proud to be working hand-in-hand with UPIC and BRAWS, as both are as committed to serving our local community’s needs as we are,” says Kennedy & Co. Realtor Madeline Middlebrook.
Kennedy & Co and UPIC Health will provide drinks and light food, as well as information on BRAWS and continued opportunities to support women in need. Cocktail attire is advised and a method for cash donations will be provided.
Co-host, UPIC Health is 100% female owned and operated, serving the women’s reproductive health community for the last four years and partnering closely with non-profits, such as BRAWS, N Street Village in D.C. and H.E.R. Shelter in Hampton Roads, Va.
“Our organization is based on empathy and we cannot see a better way to live out that value than to support our partners,” said UPIC CEO, Mary Tucker. “We are thrilled that Kennedy & Co. has offered their space for this exciting event.”
BRAWS is a local non-profit whose mission is to bring dignity and empowerment to women and girls living in shelters by providing new personally fitted undergarments and menstrual products.
ABOUT KENNEDY & CO
Kennedy&Co is a woman-owned, luxury boutique, small business located in Georgetown, D.C. that handles residential, commercial and land transactions. If you would like more information on this event and its hosts, please call real estate sales agent Madeline Middlebrook at (703) 772-1136 or email email@example.com
ABOUT UPIC HEALTH, LLC
UPIC Health is a mid-size, women-owned and operated, private organization with operations in Chantilly and Norfolk, Va. A business process outsourcer, UPIC offers patient contact center, revenue cycle management, and telebehavioral health services to clients across the country, all practicing under the value-based reimbursement concept. UPIC is a 2018 Velocity Growth Award Winner and Growth Story of the Year recipient. To learn more, visit https://www.upichealth.com or email Chief Marketing Officer, Juli Briskman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us @UPICHealth.
UPIC Celebrates House Bill 83 With BRAWS at Friends of Guest House
UPICares and partner BRAWS, celebrated the passing of Virginia House Bill 83 last week, which requires the state to provide free feminine hygiene products to incarcerated women. The event honoring legislators and advocates who worked tirelessly to pass what we would call a “dignity act,” was held at Friends of Guest House in Alexandria, Va. (FOGH).
While the bill requires the state to provide the products for free in jails and prisons, the State Board of Corrections still could limit access to the products, according to a recent article on the topic. And another bill that would have eliminated the “pink taxes” on such products did not pass this session.
Shortly after a similar federal Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act was introduced by several U.S. Senators last year, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo making tampons and pads available free of charge to all incarcerated women in federal prison.
So, while the tides are turning, much more work needs to be done.
Imprisoned women’s have been instrumental in bringing the need for on-demand feminine products to the forefront of the legislative agenda. And balancing the political parties of the Virginia House in 2017 definitely helped as well. The bill was introduced by Del. Kaye Kory and supported by Northern Virginia representatives Del. Dana Roem, Del. Mark Keam, and Sen. Barbara Favola, among others.
Friends of Guest House
FOGH, which helps women transition out of prison and into society, has all sorts of real examples and data on the positive effects of treating women with dignity. The organization has helped more than 3,000 women re-enter the community since its founding in 1974.
FOGH reports that 70 percent of female offenders will re-enter the prison system if they do not have services such as those provided by the Guest House. And in fact, less than 10 percent of FOGH clients re-offend. As nearly 80 percent of the women in jail are mothers, the positive effects of FOGH services are compounded and pass through generations.
“By helping women, we have also impacted the lives of more than 4,000 children and countless families across our community,” says FOGH.
When viewing prison through the lens of reform, there should be no doubt that prisoners deserve safety, security, and basic human rights (such as pads and tampons). Providing these essentials will ensure incarcerated females can focus on what matters: healing and rehabilitation.
Thus, House Bill 83, signed by Governor Ralph Northam and effective as of July 1, is a huge step in paving the way for dignity, empathy, and healing for females in the Virginia prison system.
Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative. She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter @UPICHealth.
New BRAWS Partnership Aids Local Women Who Need It Most
As it was Women’s Health Month, May was a great time to launch UPIC’s partnership with an organization that collects sanitary products, bras, and underwear and delivers them to women and teens in need.
UPIC employees in Norfolk and Chantilly, Va. collected items for Virginia-based BRAWS (Brings Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters) and visited a local shelter to help distribute them.
When UPIC learned about BRAWS’ mission and that some women in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties were missing school, interviews, and other appointments because they did not have supplies, we knew immediately the organization aligns with our mission of Meaningful Engagement in Care and the support of women.
“Our employees were really thoughtful about the items they donated, understanding that functioning to our full potential as women requires confidence,” said Chief Marketing Officer, Juli Briskman. “It’s hard to feel confident when using products that are not comfortable or wearing undergarments that don’t fit correctly.”
Four UPIC volunteers met BRAWS organizers at the Loudoun Emergency Homeless Shelter on May 23 to find everything pre-organized into size bins. And bags had been compiled for women that had already signed up for the event and given their sizes.
Unfortunately for us, many of the women were working. But we were glad to hear they were at work and would be able to pick up their “orders” when they got back to the shelter. The women we did meet were very thankful for the items, tried some on, and left with several bags of goodies.
Many of the female residents and their families have been recently displaced by the housing crisis. And Loudoun County, which has the highest U.S. median income, has seen a surge in homelessness for singles and families, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
During Hard Times, Feminine Care Drops in Priority
Basic necessities such as a well-fitting bra or sanitary products are not easy to come by for much of the population. Poverty rates are higher for U.S. women than men. And over half of the 37 million Americans living in poverty, are women, according to the Center for American Progress. In combination with the prevailing wage gap and Pink Taxes, undergarments and feminine products can quickly drop to the bottom of any priority list.
BRAWS has stepped in to fill this gap, working alongside shelters, such as New Hope Housing, Thrive DC, and Doorways for Women and Families (among many others). BRAWS operates several drop-off sites and has a pickup service by appointment. To learn more, visit the website.
Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative. She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us @UPICHealth.