I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.

-- Margaret Atwood

Stay Connected & Safe in Relationships

Healthy relationships

Our relationships with others can make us better people. Relationships with our families make us wise about the world and allow us to learn about ourselves. Our relationships with friends can make us kinder, more social, and open-minded people.

When our relationships don't bring us these things and instead are swarming with negativity, it's necessary to take a step back and re-evaluate them. It can be hard to think oflosing friends or risking friendships, but doing so keeps you safe and ultimately allows you to be open to healthy relationships in the future. Here are a few ways to recognize unhealthy relationships:

  1. 1. Ask yourself if you have a say.

    We all know people who tend to be more leaders than followers. They often take charge of the situation or make all the plans. They can be strong-minded and opinionated, but also confident and straightforward. Sometimes we play this role in a relationship and sometimes we don't. Either way, it becomes important to realize your role and evaluate your own behavior.

    • Leader: how do you take charge and establish your position? Do you account for friends' opinions? Do you consider all the options before making decisions? Do you allow yourself to be open to others without impressing upon them your own thoughts and feelings?

      Follower: reflect on whether the other person in the relationship considers you, what you say, and how you feel. Do they let you take charge or decide? Are you able to express yourself without being invalidated in any way?

    • If any of these things occur on both sides, you should consider communicating these things directly to the other person as openly as you can about your concerns. Be honest and genuiune in your approach and feel free to express how you feel.
  2. 2. Consider any pressure you may be experiencing in this relationship and why.

    If you feel pressue, ask yourself where it comes from and when. Are you pressured to do things you don't want to do or feel/think things you don't agree with? If so, this is a sign your relationship is headed in a dangerous direction.

    • Healthy relationships rely on a mutual desire for another's well-being and fulfillment in the relationship. If someone prefers their own well-being to yours or makes you feel like your well-being relies on their well-being, something isn't right.

      Even more, if you can isolate more than one occasion where this individual pressured you to do something you weren't comfortable with just to please them, strongly consider addressing your concerns for this relationship with someone outside of it who can provide an objective outlook. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

  3. "Healthy relationships rely on a mutual desire for another's well-being and fulfillment in the relationship. If someone prefers their own well-being to yours or makes you feel like your well-being relies on their well-being, something isn't right."
  4. 3. Think about how this person makes you feel.

    • When you don't agree or don't go along with something, does this person make you feel silly, ashamed, or even guilty? Does this feeling appear often?

      When you're not having fun with this person or enjoying the relationship, does this person make you feel like you need to be like them to be accepted by them? Do they make you feel like you should change who you are to fit a standard they set for you? If they do, seriously consider approaching someone outside your relationship for help.

***If you notice any one of these things occuring in your relationships, re-evaluate the relationship and work towards a plan to discuss and communicate your concerns. If you feel unsafe discussing these concerns with the person you're in a relationship with, be sure to look for someone outside the relationship that you trust to keep you safe: a parent, a friend, a sibling, or any adult you trust.
Brianna Velez

Brianna is a recent graduate from Montclair State University. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in both English and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies. She hopes to pursue a Master's degree in English Literature next fall. Brianna currently works in the city of Orange through AmeriCorps.

The average woman in an industrialized society will menstruate 450 times in her life;
in an agrarian one about 150 times.

Local Female Athletes Find A Common Goal:

Combining Lacrosse and 28 Days to Boost the Confidence of Girls in Need
Lax 28days

A Somerset Hills Connection of Service and Sports. Bridget Kenny, a 2011 graduate of Bernards High School, went on to Gettysburg College where she was a nationally-recognized Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association All-America Team player. Upon graduation, Bridget joined the Pennsylvania College Advising Corps as a College Advisor. Through this program, which is a joint venture of Dickinson College, Franklin & Marshall College, Gettysburg College and Millersville University and is an AmeriCorps program, Bridget assists students in finding the best match and fit for schools, or with military and career plans. One of the schools supported is Mount Union Area High School. The school is a Title 1 school, meaning more than sixty percent of the students live at or below the poverty level. In this financial environment, the cost of feminine products is a burden on families and has an impact on the confidence of the young women to stay engaged in school.

Amy Dietrich, co-founder of 28 Days, a non-profit dedicated to providing feminine products to girls and women in need, knew of Bridget's work in the rural school and connected with Bridget to support the school's need for feminine products. When the school nurse identified 150 girls in need, 28 Days sent 4000 tampons in packages the girls can pick up directly at the school. In addition to tampons for 150 students, the school nurse asked if 28 Days could send deodorant.

This call to action was picked up by Bernards Middle School 8th grader and lacrosse player, Kelsey Klein, and her mother, Mary. Kelsey plays lacrosse for T3, a club team based out of Bernardsville, and is where Bridget played in high school and coached summer camps. Kelsey rallied her T3 lacrosse club teammates to collect deodorant for the benefit of the girls of Mount Union Area High School - resulting in nearly 80 individual deodorants donated in the span of two weeks. This is in addition to a donation of 30 deodorants provided from a local non-profit.

"The feminine product donations from 28 Days and the deodorant collected will make a huge difference in the lives of my students," said Bridget Kenny.

"When communicated that packages of tampons would be available, not just a single tampon they could take when needed, girls flocked to the nurse's office. Making deodorant available as well is one less thing students need to worry about so they can focus on school, friends and their future. The students, faculty and I are all very grateful," said Bridget Kenny, college advisor at Mount Union Area and Juniata Valley High Schools.

Our distribution partners are essential to the 28 Days model," said 28 Days co-founder Amy Dietrich. "Our partners understand the unique needs of the girls and women and the best ways to get products into their hands, every 28 Days," said Dietrich. "School nurses, counselors and advisors are an integral part of our program, as they are in touch with the students and are a direct channel of support and distribution."

Both Kelsey and Bridget's love for lacrosse is not just building physical and skill-based talent, but find the support of being on a team. Connecting with other young women through sports, clubs, or academics is something both would like to see happen for all girls. In rural areas, sports may be one way a young woman can expand hopes for college. If girls feel a lack of confidence when managing their periods in the classroom or on the sports field, their chances to explore options outside of their world can plummet.

"It's hard to think that girls our age have to worry about basic things, like deodorant and feminine products. The minute my teammates and my coach heard about it they asked,'how can we help?' Everybody came to the next practices with armfuls of deodorant," said Kelsey Klein. "That's one of the greatest things about being on a team -- it's not just about what happens on the field, it's what we do off the field, too."

28 Days currently has 15 distribution partners and relies on donations from individuals, foundations, and companies. To learn more or donate to our program, please visit www.28daysproject.org/donate or contact us.
Together, whether as a donor or as a non-profit partner, you can make a difference. Period.

A woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have (about 2 million)
and only about 400 survive to be released.

Commitment to Improving the Lives of Women and Girls in Need

Jamy and sharon

How do sanitary pads and tampons fit on your shopping list if you spend every last dime on food for your family? How do you attend school when you are bleeding, without the proper supplies to contain the mess?

Menstruation can be hard to talk about—but it needs to be talked about. The need for female sanitary products for low-income girls and women has been a hidden problem with a major impact. A study done by Holly Grigg-Spall, author of Sweetening the Pill, revealed that menstrual symptoms lead to 100 million lost work hours in the United States each year, and many of them are due to women having inadequate feminine protection. This monthly challenge has a long-term economic impact—absence from work due to menstrual symptoms accounts for 15% of the wage gap between men and women, as reported by Andrea Ichino and Enrico Moretti. 28 Days Project is here to change that.

A Mission Based on Empowerment and Confidence

The mission of 28 Days is to provide feminine products to women in need, to create a less stressful and more confident period. We seek to lessen the monthly economic and emotional burdens for simply being female.

"Identifying the continuous need for feminine products among women and girls in lower income situations isn’t the challenge – the need is apparent and widespread. The real difficulty is making sure that, despite income level, each woman and girl can have a safe, healthy, and clean period," said Amy Dietrich, co-founder of 28 Days.

28 Days aims to bridge that gap for a more confident period.

To reach these less privileged women, we have built a partnership model with 16 non-profit organizations in six states ranging from New Jersey to Maine. 28 Days provides the products and the non-profit partners distribute them to women within their organization. Through this model, 28 Days has been able to reach and impact the lives of women with varying needs.

The 28 Days Project supports women throughoout the region.

Since launching in May 2016, the 28 Days Project has received nearly $8,000 in product donations yielding over 16,000 pads and more than 35,000 tampons -- and supported 1,800 periods. Considering that the average woman will spend nearly 10 years of her life menstruating and use nearly 11,000 tampons, the work has just begun.

Facts that Speak to a Continuous Need

To measure our impact and understand the lives and needs of recipients, we conducted a survey of our distribution partners. We learned that the need for feminine care products is wide-spread amongst women regardless of age, race, or family responsibilities:

  • Recipients range from 13 to 36 years old.
  • Beneficiaries span across varying employment levels.
  • Recipients include both single and married women.
  • Women are in need across multiple ethnicities.

Through this data, we can more closely measure our reach and form a more effective strategy to better meet the needs and improve the well-being of our target audience.

Not surprisingly, the women who receive products from 28 Days have other unmet needs that can also contribute to high stress and lower levels of personal confidence. Diapers and wipes are in high demand as well personal care items, such as soap, deodorant, shampoo, and toothpaste. This data can help 28 Days build partnerships with other organizations to get the right products to these women.

28 Days is not only providing products — the organization is making a huge emotional impact, as expressed by nearly all of the non-profit partners who interact with these women on a regular basis.

Beyond the Distribution

Although we have had tremendous reach in the infancy of our existence, so much more can be done to scale the program.

“We are using a launch and learn, data-driven philosophy in building the 28 Days program” said Jamy Barton, co-founder of 28 Days. “At the onset, we knew that our donor base no longer has time to drop off bags of products at our doorsteps, so we built an online model and leveraged social media for product and monetary donations, such as integration with an Amazon Wishlist and the ability for donors to set up recurring (monthly) donations through our website. As we move forward with the program, we’ll continually innovate to open up the donation funnel and measure results to expand our impact footprint.”

The Future is Promising for Periods

Offline, 28 Days is looking to grow relationships with local organizations and foundations. We hope to obtain grants for special projects and to build the program infrastructure to include ideas such as job skill training and personal development workshops.

28 Days has learned a lot over the past year and we'd like to share our learnings and tools with others who want to help in their communities. Together, whether as a donor or as a non-profit partner, you can make a difference. Period.

To learn more or donate to our program, please visit www.28daysproject.org or contact us.

Sara Steinberg

As a current sophomore at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Sara is always looking for ways to apply problem-solving and analytical skills to solve complex issues, both in both business and in the lives of those around me. In her free time, she enjoys baking, going on runs, and hanging with friends and family. She’s excited to be a part of this amazing organization, help it grow, and change lives!