Mental Health Technology ’97
October 9 was Period Action Day, a day to reduce the stigma around menstruation and to raise awareness about the public health issue known as period poverty.
So, what exactly is period poverty? A topic that makes some uncomfortable, period poverty is defined as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities and waste management. Not unique to third-world countries as people often assume, around one-in-four women in America experience period poverty.
Lynette Medley ’97, co-founder of the non-profit No More Secrets, Mind Body Spirit, Inc., has been raising awareness and combatting period poverty in the Philadelphia area, alongside her daughter Nya McGlone, since 2012.
“When we think of poverty we often think of access to housing, food or clothing,” says Medley. “But those same populations often experience period poverty, too.”
Earlier in her career, Medley hosted Cupcakes and Crucial Conversations – important discussions on everything from sexuality to bodily autonomy to engaging in safe relationships. Eventually, women and girls she met with began sharing their harrowing first-hand experiences with period poverty.
At first Medley was shocked. Then she took action.
What began as collecting and distributing donated menstrual products from her office quickly grew into a much larger operation. And the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for Medley and McGlone to take the next step and open The SPOT Period: a brick-and-mortar menstrual hub, the only one of its kind in the nation. (SPOT stands for Safety Programming for Optimal Transformation.)
“When Covid hit, the world shut down, but periods didn’t stop.” According to Medley, she and McGlone went from about 80 deliveries of menstrual products a week to nearly 300 during the pandemic.
Entirely donor funded, The SPOT provides menstrual products, education and wellness services, access to clean water and Wi-Fi, and so much more. According to Medley, The SPOT services hundreds of visitors a week.
An important part of the facility is the Breonna Taylor Safe Room, a warm and welcoming place where women and girls can find safety from violence and abuse, have sensitive conversations and receive educational resources.
Medley, who has a knack for leading uncomfortable conversations with ease, says it’s important to create non-judgmental spaces and to just listen. Says Medley, “When we listen to our communities, we’re able to amplify what’s really going on.”
She continued, “Many menstruating individuals suffer for so long because no one wants to talk about it. Once we normalize uterine health and wellness – outside of just reproductive health – we’ll be able to alleviate some of these disparities.”
No More Secrets also just launched an online campaign called Power a Period which Medley describes as an effort to “give back the power of the period to our communities through sharing real, powerful stories.”
It’s those stories that motivate Medley to keep going.
“People rely on us; we have no backup. And I think that as Drexel alums, we often do the stuff that no one else will do,” she says.
When Medley talks about her work, the passion in her voice is palpable. The work is hard, and the days are long, but she is committed to her mission. And that mission is more than distributing menstrual products or providing a bathroom and clean water: it’s helping the women and girls in her community live with dignity.
And she knows her work is far from done. Medley hopes to expand The SPOT with satellite offices, as well as facilitate more partnerships with organizations like hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices.
She recently formed one such partnership with Drexel. She has provided menstrual products to Mario’s Market – the student food pantry on campus – as well as Drexel’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services and the University’s student-run Queen Lane food pantry. Medley also recently spoke to a group of Drexel students about her work to fight period poverty. And this month, students from the College of Nursing and Health Professions have begun completing clinical hours weekly at The SPOT, providing health resources and information, doing screenings and referrals and hosting period classes.
On October 9, a group of Drexel alumni volunteered at The SPOT to meet with Medley and pack first period kits for local girls which include hygiene products and empowering information that celebrates the milestone of menstruation.
For more information on how to support Medley in her work against period poverty, contact Nikki Bromberg, associate director, alumni engagement, health sciences at firstname.lastname@example.org.