By Rama K. Ramaswamy
Dignity Matters, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that provides feminine care products, underwear and bras to homeless women and school-aged girls, recently moved its headquarters from Wayland to 7 Bishop St, Building 29, Framingham. As of this year, 2018, the organization has tripled its in-kind donations from 120,000 to over 360,000 donated products. In addition, according to founder Kate Sanetra-Butler, through the many new partnerships Dignity Matters has secured this year, "distribution to those in need will also grow three times.”
Sanetra-Butler, a former corporate executive and mother of two, was first inspired to take action when a homeless woman in Boston asked her for a spare tampon. In that moment, Dignity Matters was born. This non-profit organization takes action by collecting and distributing these much-needed items to many homeless women and girls in Massachusetts. An all-volunteer organization, Dignity Matters is currently supporting 15 shelters, over 100 scattered sites for families, multiple domestic violence programs, food pantries, 11 after-school programs, and 30 schools in the greater Boston area.
“A staggering number of women living in homeless shelters in almost every community within Massachusetts do not have access to many of the items other women take for granted - namely, tampons, pads, new underwear, and new or gently used bras,” explains Sanetra-Butler. “Shelters and public schools cannot meet the demand and food stamps do not cover them. Every month, thousands of homeless women are placed in a crisis situation from dealing with infections to being unable to purchase sanitary supplies. Keeping safe and clean isn’t easy on the streets.”
The rapid growth of Dignity Matters in just 18 months made it necessary to warehouse the many donations coming in. Thanks to a partnership between South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) and Dignity Matters, which began as a result of Dignity Matters supporting SMOC’s shelters, Dignity Matters was able to secure a warehouse lease within a SMOC-owned facility in Framingham. The move has provided a way to easily and quickly inventory and distribute donations to those in need. It also provides an opportunity for volunteers to work in the warehouse to assist with sorting, inventory and distribution.
For more information on the many ways to be involved with Dignity Matters, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Andrea Schneider is the chapter leader for Wellesley (email@example.com). More information about Dignity Matters can also be found at www.dignity-matters.org.