21 July 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented global disaster resulting in loss of income, loss of stable housing, and empty shelves at the store for many, especially women and girls experiencing homelessness. We sat down with Dana Marlowe, Founder and Executive Director of I Support the Girls to learn about how the organization has ramped up its operations to make sure women, girls, and menstruators worldwide are able to access menstrual products, bras, and underwear to bring dignity, health, and comfort to folks on the streets, in makeshift shelters, in hospitals, and those sheltering-in-place.
What does change mean for you?
Change means growth, learning, opportunity, and adjustment. It is inherently connected to positive social disruption. I Support the Girls has done more than adapted in the face of adversity—we’ve learned and flourished. With a focus on inclusivity and responsiveness to needs, we’ve used our teams’ extensive experiences and education to address new pandemic-caused issues like quarantine, poverty, furloughs, hurricanes, and the vast unknown. I Support the Girls is ensuring that with all the rapid fluctuations in the world, we are always moving forward in an intentional manner as opposed to a reactive manner.
What has shifted for I Support the Girls due to the pandemic?
Periods don’t stop for pandemics. ISTG had a sudden 35% increase in demand for our products. But, we had to close donation drop-off locations in cities around the world that could no longer accept individual donations. Blessedly, we have been able to secure additional corporate donations and transitioned to ‘drive-by drives’ and online ordering for product donations. Our work has shifted in high gear in response to the pandemic, and ISTG’s 58 affiliates have almost matched last year’s donations in half a year.
What has surprised you the most in the recent months?
A snazzy cargo van from Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child!
Absolutely nothing about recent months has been ‘normal’, so I have adopted a ‘roll with it’ attitude. Our 58 U.S. and global affiliates’ resiliency has been monumental to watch. Over the next couple of years, we anticipate the high level of need continuing, but now we’re better prepared to meet it. (We liken it to Jewish mothers preparing for Passover and making five extra pounds of brisket…just in case). It may not be perfect, but we’ll be prepared.