Women of Impact Launch Dignity Project

WEST HARTFORD, CONN. (April 15, 2019) – Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s Women of Impact have launched a new initiative to provide much-needed 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 public event was held on February 28 at Linda Levin’s home in West Hartford. More than 50 women attended to help assemble the first 150 Dignity Packs and celebrate the life-changing impact of Jewish women doing acts of kindness. The finished Dignity Packs have been very well-received and are available to people of any gender identity.

“These products are expensive, especially for families with teenage daughters," noted Shayna Ull, a mental health clinician at Jewish Family Services. "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. I know the beautiful Dignity Packs will be greatly appreciated and put to use. Thank you to the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford for being cognizant of this need in our community.”

Additional Dignity Project events will be held on an ongoing basis, with two more currently in the works for the spring and early summer. The goal is to assemble 1,000 Dignity Packs in the first year. Though the initiative is led by women, everyone is welcome to get involved by volunteering or making an in-kind donation or financial contribution. 

To learn more about the Dignity Project, please contact Alana Butler, Federation’s Director of Volunteer Engagement, at abutler@jewishhartford.org or 860.727.6152, or Meredith Chandler, Associate Vice President of Development and Director of Women’s Philanthropy, at mchandler@jewishhartford.org or 860.727.6125.

Photo caption: Federation’s Women of Impact celebrate the completion of the first 150 Dignity Packs.