Helping Women Period-Chicago is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, committed to supplying feminine hygiene products to homeless and low-income women in the greater Chicago area.  HWPC is an independent chapter of Helping Women Period, an organization based in Lansing, Michigan founded in March 2015.

Our organization’s initial focus is on supplying products to shelters, traditional housing facilities and outreach organizations, with the eventual goal of also reaching women in need trough food banks, schools and prisons.  We are aiming to fill a void, as feminine hygiene products are not frequently being donated and organizations working to help these women do not have a budget for supplying these items.

The story of the Helping Women Period—Chicago chapter begins as most great ideas do—through a talk with a good friend.

During a lunch with my friend Teresa in January 2016, I had mentioned my desire to get involved with a non-profit. Teresa works with non-profits daily, and together we brainstormed a list of ways that I could get involved. One of those ways was Helping Women Period (HWP), a non-profit located in East Lansing, Michigan. Teresa’s cousin Amy Stephenson is one of the founders.

I thought about the list for several days—and HWP kept coming back into my thoughts. The more I learned about homeless and low-income women and the challenges they face with menstruation, the more frustrated I became. It’s unacceptable that girls and women have limited access to pads, tampons, and the other sanitary products they need—and as a result have to miss work and school. Many are domestic abuse survivors, or are mothers with children to care for.  There are so many challenges that these women face throughout the course of a day, and this shouldn’t have to be one of them. So, with guidance from the amazing women who began the Michigan chapter, and an excitement to help women in my own community, I embarked on this non-profit journey a few months ago.

I never thought I would start a non-profit, but this is an issue of dignity and health. You’d never know it was an issue—menstruation is still a fairly taboo topic in our society. It’s my hope that we can make a difference and create a bit of comfort in the daily lives of women in the greater Chicago area.


Ida Melbye

Executive Director, Helping Women Period—Chicago