During one of her personal volunteering stints, Tamara Whiting recognized an overlooked and under-discussed need of Pittsburgh women living in poverty: feminine hygiene products. Says Whiting, “Women living in poverty typically know where to find a safe place to sleep or a hot meal to eat. But when it comes to thinking about feminine care, they often have nowhere to turn.” On a basic level, Tamara envisioned an organization of “women for women,” one that would sustain feminine health, regardless of a woman’s social-economic status. After gathering her friends for support, SisterFriend was formed in Tamara’s dining room.
Their mission is simple: to sustain feminine health by providing feminine care products to homeless and underprivileged women and girls, by way of partnering with shelters and after-school programs. SisterFriend administers its program by directly distributing feminine hygiene kits; partnering with nonprofits, groups and organizations; raising awareness; and providing volunteer opportunities to young women in the community.
On October 19, SisterFriend had the opportunity to participate in the Awesome Pitchburgh pitch competition at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse in Spring Garden along with two other applicants for Awesome Pittsburgh’s monthly $1,000 grant. After listening to 3-minute pitches from each competitor, Awesome Pittsburgh trustees and guest judges from nearby North Side neighborhoods chose SisterFriend as the instant winner. The project is ongoing and supported mainly by in-kind and individual monetary donations, and the $1000 grant prize will be used specifically to purchase products and to assist with volunteer recruitment.
Explains trustee Melonie Nance:
SisterFriend’s cohort of volunteers prepares kits for distribution, writes personal notes of encouragement and delivers the supplies to partnering organizations. Their hope—and ours—is that every women and girl who connects with SisterFriend will walk away with a better understanding of the issue. May everyone be reminded that women and girls living in poverty are no less or different than themselves, and that every woman and girl deserves respect.