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Hartford Federation’s Women of Impact launch dignity project

HARTFORD – Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s Women of Impact have launched a new initiative to provide menstrual supplies for local people in need. The Dignity Project meets several times a year to assemble “Dignity Packs” of items not covered by government benefit programs. The packs are made available to clients in need at Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford (JFS) and Mikveh Bess Israel.

“As Women of Impact, we wanted to learn more about the specific needs of women in our community,” said Dignity Project Co-Chair Linda Levin. “We learned from JFS that, all too often, local girls are unable to attend school and women are unable to go to work during their periods because they don’t have access to menstrual supplies. SNAP and WIC don’t cover them, and people often don’t think of donating them. We knew we wanted to help – and so the Dignity Project was born.”

“Each Dignity Pack contains supplies like sanitary pads, tampons, toothpaste and a toothbrush, a bar of soap, deodorant and shampoo,” explained Dignity Project Co-Chair Jessica Zachs. “The supplies go into a plain, reusable black fabric bag, with a little card inside saying ‘assembled with love by Federation’s Women of Impact.’ We did this on purpose. We want to protect clients’ privacy, affirm their dignity, and let them know that they are not alone.”

A team of local women conceived the initiative and planned the first Dignity Project event, led by Linda Levin and Jessica Zachs along with Federation Women’s Philanthropy Chair Dana Keller and Volunteer Engagement Chair Tracy Taback. The first event was held Feb. 28 at Levin’s home in West Hartford. More than 50 women attended to help assemble the first 150 Dignity Packs. 

“These products are expensive, especially for families with teenage daughters,” noted Shayna Ull, a JFS mental health clinician. “There is not any state assistance to help cover the cost, and obtaining sanitary products is an ongoing struggle for so many families. This challenge is so frequently overlooked.”

The goal is to assemble 1,000 Dignity Packs in the first year. Though the initiative is led by women, all are invited to volunteer or make an in-kind donation or financial contribution. 

For more information, contact Alana Butler at abutler@jewishhartford.org or (860) 727-6152, or Meredith Chandler at mchandler@jewishhartford.org or (860) 727-6125.

CAP: From left: Dana Keller, Jessica Zachs and Linda Levin welcome attendees to the first Dignity Project volunteer event, held in West Hartford on February 28, 2019.PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HARTFORD VIDEOGRAPHER

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