Period Miami hosted a pack-and-chat party on Sunday afternoon at the Nene FemHealth wellness store in Miami Gardens in an effort to produce “period bags,” brown paper bags with menstrual pads for women in need.
Period Miami is one of the 330 chapters of the national non-profit created in 2014 to serve those in need, eliminate the taboo about periods and educate on the way we speak about them, and advocate by raising awareness through events and campaigns, according to the group’s website. The organization that was founded by Harvard student Nadya Okamoto and Cornell student Vincent Forand.
Period Miami says its volunteers were encouraged to bring unused and unopened menstrual hygiene products to Sunday’s period party, where they packed the period bags. Mobile-payment donations were also welcomed.
During the “period packing portion,” everyone was instructed to grab a paper bag and pack 14 pads into each one. Around 60 period bags were made at Sunday’s period party.
According to chapter officer Nicky Dawkins, all of the period bags that were packed will be dropped off to the Lotus House women’s shelter in Miami and The Beauty Initiative, an organization that provides hygienic products to women in need.
Five people showed up to volunteer at the period party.
Shanelle Nespir, a volunteer and aspiring public-health advocate, expressed how motivating and happy she was to be able to help and show support especially because she didn’t get the period talk growing up.
“I didn’t really learn about sexuality until I was in college. Pretty much because my mom never talked to me about it, she just said don’t get pregnant, don’t bring home a baby,” she said.
After the period packing portion was complete, there was an open discussion and education workshop about periods. Volunteers were asked when they first got their periods, their most embarrassing period story, and how their periods make them feel.
“My period makes me feel icky, like when I have it but it also makes me feel like a woman and that’s good,” Afria Imani said, a prospective Broward College student.
According to Irving, openly discussing periods is essential in keeping the period stigma away and also helps facilitate and empower others to participate.
Nicky Dawkins is a feminine-health journalist and one of the chapter officers for Period Miami. Dawkins chose to partner with Nerissa Irving after reviewing some of Irving’s products on her blog, Hypegirls.
According to Dawkins, at her first packing party, Irving donated 1,000 pads and continued to do so, which led to Dawkins asking Irving if she wanted to come on as vice president.
One of the reasons Dawkins chose to become part of Period was because it allowed her to have flexibility in making the chapter its own.
“They let us throw parties and make it fun and you know, we swear and we can post this graphic period art on our Instagram and they don’t really censor us,” said Dawkins. “I think because of that we have been able to really grow and reach women that we normally wouldn’t have access to.”