More than a year after she received a challenge at the 2017 SEIU Healthcare Summer Academy, Jodi Vergburg, a personal support worker (PSW), has continued and ramped up her feminine hygiene product drive in Brockville.
In the past year, Jodi and her friend Cindy Becker and Cindy’s daughter Eva, donated 70 individual care packages and four large boxes of additional goods to their local food bank and to Interval House, which is a centre for women survivors of partner violence. They are going to be making another large donation of kits this fall.
The team made kits to suit four age groups: ages 10 to 14 years, 15 to 18 years, 18 years and older, and seniors. The kits contain various feminine hygiene products (i.e. panty liners, pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and adult diapers) depending on the age group and other self-care products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and travel-size body washes and shampoos.
During the holiday season, Jodi also donated 10 holiday baskets to Interval House, which had everything to prepare a holiday meal except for the meat. Coincidentally, someone else donated 10 turkeys that same day, which made the perfect pairing for a full meal.
“There are a lot of women in need in Brockville and it is a small community,” says Jodi. “There are also a lot of women who live with mental health illnesses in my town. These women don’t always recognize that they need to purchase these products, or they don’t have the means to do so.”
Jodi has witnessed women wearing blood stained white paints and seniors who have stayed in urine-soaked underwear because they can only do laundry once a week. “It hurts my heart to observe this happening in my community,” she says.
She is passionate about this charitable work because she has personally had to decide between buying food for the week or personal hygiene products. In the past, she was in an abusive relationship and her partner only gave her a small allowance.
“I wish these care products had been readily available to me when I needed them,” says Jodi. “I’m in a better place and can now help others, so that is why I’m doing this.”
In July, Jodi remarried, and her new husband Dan encouraged her to become a PSW and helps her with her feminine hygiene drive. “He is 100 per cent beside me.”
Lots of support
The drive has received a lot of monetary support and donations of goods from their friends, family, and SEIU Healthcare members. However, she says some people in her town have not been particularly supportive of women-specific causes.
“I hope to change people’s minds, but their negativity only drives me to excel at what I’m doing,” she says.
This year, they aim to double last year’s donations. If you are interested in donating to the drive, please contact Jodi directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.