Ok everyone so get this, I’m out one night at Emporium (an arcade bar in Chicago), and to my surprise, they were having an event. Let me backtrack a little, I was in the mood to play pool and I thought ‘what better place to play pool, than at an arcade bar’, am I right? As I’m waiting for my friend to arrive, I decide to make my way around the event and network.
Upon my friend’s arrival I stumble upon a table filled with feminine products, and as the social butterfly I claim to be, I decide to ask ‘why?’ As soon as I approach I see the biggest smile headed my way and an even bigger welcoming and description of what I had discovered: ‘The Chicago Period Project’.
This non profit organization provides feminine products for women or anyone in need of these utilities, who have a hard time obtaining them regardless of their circumstances. Ashley Novoa, the founder of CPP (Chicago Period Project), was able to meet with me, during another event the organization was holding, for a one on one interview:
ASHLEY TELL ME HOW THIS PROJECT EVEN STARTED:
“The beginning aspect of it was right after the 2016 election, that’s not a coincidence, I just had a lot of negative energy and I knew I wanted to make a difference, and after a couple of days I saw this video on ‘Bustle’ (a blog that gives a fresh spin on news), following a homeless woman in New York on her period. It showed the day to day things she had to go through and the struggles she had to go through to even find a public bathroom to have the private space to maintain herself. So with those inspirations put together I knew that I wanted to do something at the moment that empowered women, anybody with a uterus, and my little period baby was born.”
Ashley and I both commented on the video she had mentioned and I told her I had seen it too. It’s bad enough having your uterus shed monthly, and all the awful symptoms that come along with it, but imagine not having the amenities to help get you through that?
WHAT ARE THE STEPS YOU HAD TO TAKE IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT ALL OF THIS:
“I have no experience with non profits or anything like this. When I had the idea I reached out to a parents group that I’m in from Logan Square (a neighborhood in Chicago). I threw the idea out there to see if anyone wanted to join and get on board and help me out with the logistics, from there I had 20 women reach out to me and respond to me. I got a lot of feedback, one of the ladies husbands helped me put the website together. From that point on there were actually five women who stuck on the team and now here we are. Were getting our 501(c), ‘organization of non profit organizations in Federal Law of the United States’, and were actually almost a real non profit organization.”
WHAT IS THE EXACT DEMOGRAPHIC OF WOMEN THAT YOU REACH OUT TO:
“First and foremost we don’t like to say that our services are specifically for women because we understand that people who don't identify as women also experience their period. So our services are for anyone in need, whether you’re on the street, sharing a house with 15 other people because that’s what you need to do to get by, I understand how expensive these products can be, for tampons alone a woman, on average, is going to pay one thousand-seven hundred dollars, for just tampons alone, in their lifetime. That burden can be so huge, especially for people who don’t have money to even buy a meal for themselves. So we reach out to anyone who hosts these demographics. We have recently reached out to Chicago public schools, they are supposed to have it in their budget to be able to provide these supplies for their students, but we all know how that goes, so if they need supplies were more than happy to drop some off for them.”
I mentioned to Ashley that what her and her team are doing for the people is incredible. You hear about other organizations donating these products but an entire title and focus on period products could help so many people in need.
DO YOU GUYS DO ANY EDUCATING IN REGARDS TO HOW TO USE THESE PRODUCTS:
“Not yet. That is definitely one of our goals for the future and we are working on that for sure. We really have started to reach out to more programs, so once that foundation is on the ground we plan to focus on education. We are big on spreading awareness and we do believe that education and all of that will help contribute to that.”
WHO IS THE MAIN TEAM BEHIND THIS WONDERFUL PROGRAM:
“Its myself: Ashley Novoa, Laura Gutierrez, Shelby Allison (co owner of Lost Lake tiki bar in Logan Square), Allison Burque and Selva Urzagaste.”
I told Ashley these women should be so proud of themselves. Ashley always just smiles whenever I compliment her success with Period Project and I can tell her and the girls are so modest and humble.
THIS EVENT WE ARE CURRENTLY AT, TELL ME MORE ABOUT THIS:
“We have been partnering with ‘Way Down’, (rooftop bar at Ace Hotel in Chicago), since January and they are doing a really amazing thing; with every different moon phase that occurs, they have a cocktail called ‘The Moon Child’ and the recipe switches out with every different phase and a dollar from every one of those they sell, throughout the year, goes to Chicago Period Project. Every Monday they do ‘Auxiliary DJ’s’ so that’s why we're here, we got our playlist going and we set up a table for people to pack period kits and those kits will be going to ‘Girls in The Hood’.”
Ashley wanted everyone to know that her team is working super hard for this project and they hope to spread as much awareness as possible. They have an instagram account so you guys can check them out and donate to this wonderful cause, so follow them @chicagoperiodprjct and their personal website www.chicagoperiodproject.org!