Providing information about menstruation and giving menstrual products to individuals in need is Priscilla Stranberry’s goal.
In her spare time, Stranberry, a Fresno State alumna, focuses on Better Period, an organization that aims to end period poverty and stigmas about menstruation in the Central Valley.
“This is meaningful to me because if we can get people to talk about it and have them be comfortable with it and it be something that is praised and celebrated versus shamed and forced to be hidden, that would be a win and victory for me,” Stranberry said.
As part of a service learning project, Falon Kartch, a professor in the communication department, is sponsoring a donation drive for Better Period in her two classes, Communication 120 – Gender Communication.
The donation drive kicked off on campus on Oct. 1 with decorative donation boxes created by the classes. The boxes were placed around campus and will be visible until Dec. 1.
All products collected will be assembled into a one-month Period Kit for menstruators in need and donated to Better Period and other organizations.
The classes are collecting various types of products related to menstruation, such as pads, tampons, feminine wipes and toiletries.
“It is easy to take things for granted when you have easy access to them. And realizing that’s a privilege that some people don’t have, when I first realized that, I was horrified,” Kartch said. “I first thought of homeless women who can’t afford these products or don’t eat because they need to buy a box of these products; things like that, to me, is just horrific and should never happen.”
A group from Kartch’s classes have promoted the donation drive in all sorts of ways, creating an Instagram account called @ best.period_group and partnering with a Starbucks in Sanger on Oct. 23 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Jeanee-Marie Kesterson, a communication major, believes that everyone relates to this issue in some way. She comes from a family where she had sisters and faced times when obtaining feminine products was a struggle.
“It’s something that we need in the community because a lot of people don’t realize that there is sometimes the choice between food or feminine hygiene products,” Kesterson said.
According to The Action Network website, a citywide study focused on period poverty, 46 percent of low-income women had to choose between a meal and their feminine products.
For Giselle Hernandez, a communication major, this issue has opened up a whole new world about feminine hygiene products and understanding that there are women who cannot purchase the hygiene products they need.
“Seeing that firsthand has truly kept me to always have some sort of feminine hygiene product on me to give to somebody else or leave them here in the restrooms at Fresno State,” Hernandez said.
Better Period is an organization that utilizes donation drives and table booths at events. Stranberry and her team collect all donations and assemble them into Period Kits, which are then distributed to several locations, such as the Marjaree Mason Center and Fresno Rescue Mission: Rescue the Children.
The first Better Period donation drive was held on Dec. 1, 2018, at the Revue in Fresno’s Tower District, collecting over 1,000 products.
This organization has given birth to a podcast titled “Not your mom’s period,” letting menstruators talk about their first menstrual cycle experience.
“I really encourage people to think about menstruation and periods in a more meaningful way where they are thinking about the people around them that menstruate and start conversations in a different way, such as asking, ‘How does your period affect all aspects of your life?’ Stranberry said.
Better Period is holding a Period Kit Donation Drive honoring the world’s first #NationalPeriodDay on Oct. 19 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Common Space Fresno located at 1252 Fulton St.
Staff, faculty and students can drop off donations in the Department of Communication office in the Speech Arts Building Room 15. For more information on how to get involved, contact Stranberry at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kartch @ email@example.com.