Whether it’s to right an injustice or fulfill an innate desire to help our fellow man, the motivation to make a difference in others’ lives often is triggered by our personal experiences.
The emotional trigger that inspired Femme Aid Collaborative happened during a routine errand. Ryann Mescher and her mother, April, were in line at the grocery store behind a woman who couldn’t afford to buy menstrual products. They purchased the items for her on the spot, and it moved them, along with Ryann’s Oakwood High School classmates, Dana Clark and Zoe Waller, to work to end period poverty in Greater Dayton.
“We had no idea this was an issue in our community. It was shocking to witness firsthand a person who had to choose between eating and purchasing menstrual hygiene products,” Ryann said. “We knew we had to do something about it.”
They opened a Charitable Checking AccountSM through The Dayton Foundation to “give donors the confidence that we were an established entity, the money would be managed properly and they would receive a tax deduction,” April said. “One hundred percent of donations made through the CCA are used to purchase menstrual hygiene products monthly.”
Thanks to fundraising events like the Change the Cycle breakfast and car washes, Femme Aid has collected and distributed 500,000 period products to individuals in need since March 2019. They also have lobbied for change by supporting the passage of House Bill 19 to eliminate Ohio sales tax on feminine hygiene products and created an awareness that has inspired several area schools to stock these products free of charge in their restrooms.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Femme Aid cofounders Ryann, Dana and Zoe recently were honored with the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award and featured on WHIO-TV’s Making a Difference. But it isn’t accolades and awards that motivate these young women to continue their mission of helping to end period poverty.
“If you can give, you should. It doesn’t have to be monetary, it can be your time or even just your support. Anything helps when it comes to problems that affect the whole community,” Zoe said. “We all have to do our part in improving Greater Dayton.”