Constance Gully, Donna O'Brien and Kerry Caverly

Parents as Teachers President/CEO Constance Gully; Donna O’Brien, vice president of professional and program development; and Kerry Caverly, senior vice president, chief program officer, prepared feminine hygiene product kits for distribution to area low-income women at the St. Louis Diaper Bank.

Realizing that one in five area low-income women cannot afford adequate menstrual products, the Parents as Teachers National Center teamed with the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank to raise money to buy them tampons and pads.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Parents as Teachers raised money through an online donation drive called the “Period Project Drive” to purchase 35,000 period products being stock-piled at the Diaper Bank in Wellston. The products were transported to the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch hotel, where Parents as Teachers hosted its annual international conference October 14 – 17.

Some 1,400 early childhood development professionals attended the conference and helped assemble individual menstrual kits for distribution to area needy women free of charge.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Parents as Teachers’ founding in St. Louis. The non-profit organization known for its effectiveness of strengthening families through its home visiting model, has been commemorating it with year-long events across its national network of 1,036 affiliate partners.

“Earlier in the year we asked our affiliates how they wanted to celebrate our 35th anniversary and the overwhelming response was that they wanted to get involved in local projects where they could make a difference,” said Constance Gully, Parents as Teachers’ president and chief executive officer. “The Period Project represents one of those efforts here in St. Louis.”

Diaper Bank Founding Executive Director Jessica Adams said the Period Project helps ensure that individuals in need have access to essential period products required to fully participate in daily life with dignity and works to raise awareness about the causes and consequences of “period poverty” in the St. Louis region.

“Period Poverty,” Adams said, “occurs when there is a lack of access to an adequate supply of menstrual products like pads or tampons, which forces women to use inferior or unhealthy alternatives like socks, rags, even diapers to address their monthly cycles.

"It is an indignity experienced by thousands regularly. Research shows that 64 percent of low-income women in St. Louis experience period poverty,” Adams said.

Parents as Teachers began partnering with the Diaper Bank about two years ago. As a non-profit committed to strengthening low-income families, Parents as Teachers distributes emergency packs of diapers, it gets from the Diaper Bank to families through its Show Me Strong Families community engagement initiative, which serves families in the Normandy Schools Collaborative and St. Louis.

Donna Givens, Show Me Strong Families’ manager of community partnerships and groups, said each participating family receives 50 free diapers a month and more if there is an emergent need.

“Many of our families tell us that it makes them happier, their children happier, and they are able to buy toiletries, and pay bills with the money saved by not having to purchase the products provided through this partnership,” Givens said.  

Since 2014, Show Me Strong Families has served 745 families with 936 children through more than 6,000 personal visits in their homes. An additional 2,000 children in the NSD footprint were screened for developmental delays and health or vision concerns.

To donate to the Period Project, visit https://parentsasteachers.org/period-project-2019

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