Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

#Letsmakeaseen: Sisterfriend

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

#Letsmakeaseen: Sisterfriend

Article excerpt

#LetsMakeASEEN is an occasional piece focused on small organizations in Pittsburgh making a big impact.

The Organization: SisterFriend Inc. is dedicated specifically to menstrual advocacy and product distribution. Community organizations can connect to receive products monthly. The organization, founded in 2015, has provided more than 10,000 packages of hygiene products, equating to roughly 100,000 individual pads and tampons.

The Founder: Tamara Whiting, 36, of the North Side. Ms. Whiting serves as director of multicultural sales for the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau with more than 15 years in the hospitality and marketing industries.

Let's talk about menstruation. A suppressed topic in our society, it is usually a subject whispered about in school hallways, complained about in the bathroom or completely ignored in the workplace. Tamara Whiting has set out to normalize it. Period.

"Growing up surrounded by strong women who have always served their communities has inspired me to dedicate my life to the service of others, especially women," she said. The idea was sparked after Ms. Whiting became a volunteer and later a consultant for Bethlehem Haven, an Uptown women's shelter, and saw first-hand the need for menstrual hygiene products. She then quickly realized that Pittsburgh was in need of a service to provide free menstrual products in shelters.

"Menstruation is such a taboo subject for most people, and this translates to low amounts of products being donated to shelters. People who are unable to have consistent access to menstrual hygiene products have to resort to using items such as rags, newspaper and toilet paper. Imagine if you had to manage your period in this manner and how that would affect not only your physical health but your mental health," Ms. Whiting said.

Her goal was to create a space to push for policies that make these products free and accessible to all who need them.

"The city has been extremely supportive in helping SisterFriend achieve its goals. We have been blessed to receive funding from the Pittsburgh Foundation's Small and Mighty Grants Program, the POISE Foundation, Awesome Pittsburgh, and the Women and Girls Foundation, just to name a few. …

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