One year ago a Perth woman called Lenny Jacoby decided to collect sanitary items and underwear for disadvantaged and homeless women in Perth and WA.
It was initially an idea that she just presented to her family and friends. What she didn’t know at the time was that it would go viral and they would be inundated with donations. The campaign last year was seen by 67,000 people.
We ran a story on it last October which you can read here.
It’s on again this year! (this month in fact…)
Read on for Lenny’s thoughts one year later and to find out how you can help.
“Twelve months ago I had an article pop up in my Facebook news feed requesting clothing donations for a place called the Ruah Centre. For some reason the name rung a bell but I couldn’t put my finger on where I had heard it before. A quick look at their web page and I realised that it was a homeless drop in centre, which, for me, was a far more appealing place to donate my clothes than an op shop.
Fast forward a week and I was finishing up a fitness session with a local mum from our mothers group. Her partner met us at the park and they were talking about her work and all of a sudden the penny dropped.
“You work at Ruah don’t you?”
“Oh I saw the Facebook post looking for clothes for the homeless. I have some jackets for them, mind if I drop them at your place?”
“Sure. No problem.” my friend replied.
There was a slight pause in our conversation before she continued.
“You know, I was just talking to the manager, Matt, at the Centre yesterday and he said the donations had been amazing but they really lacked women’s underwear. Most of the donations are the granny style undies and the women don’t really want to wear them. They will if that’s all there is but its not nice for them. And, did you know he spends a lot of his cash donations on sanitary items? I hadn’t even thought of that!”
“Do you know anyone who works at Coles or Libra or something that would donate sanitary items?”
“Nope. Not at all.”
We went our separate ways and on my walk home, I started thinking. What did I do when I needed something? Well I just added it to my trolley and kept shopping. I got a little teary on the way home thinking it must be pretty awful not to have pads and tampons when you needed them.
My son was asleep when I got home so I thought “maybe Ill just ask a few friends if they wanted to donate some undies and tampons.”
I jumped onto Facebook, wrote a long-winded message to a bunch of people and promptly closed my web browser without sending it. A massive seed of doubt entered my head. ‘Lenny no one wants to hear about this. Turn the computer off and have a shower.’ I thought.
With my hand above the keyboard ready to shut it all down, something jumped out at me. I couldn’t miss it. My desktop picture. Twelve simple words:
And with that in mind, I reopened my web browser and retyped my message. One by one all of my friends said they were up for it. My sister suggested I make a Facebook event so that she can invite her friends to join in. So I did. It was called ‘Essentials for Women of Perth’. And it went nuts.
My original plan was to surprise my friend with 100 pairs of knickers, but after the event went viral (and I had stopped panicking), I thought I’d be pretty stoked with 1000 pairs. The final tally after six weeks was 8801 pairs of undies and a grand total of 52000 (that’s not a typo) essential items which were donated to Ruah who in turn distributed them to thirty-one organisations to give to women in need.
There are many things I have learnt along the way but there was one thing that stood out for me. If you had asked me a year ago how many homeless people we had in Perth I would’ve said maybe a few hundred. Boy was I wrong! For the first time ever, my eyes were opened to the number of homeless people that are in my hometown. I had always thought of a homeless person as someone who is literally living on the streets at night. I had never thought of people stuck in temporary or crisis accommodation, people who couchsurf between friends and family because they have no stable place to call home, people who live in tents on campsites or overcrowded backpackers because it’s cheaper than living in a house in Perth. I only recently learnt that this is known as “hidden homelessness” and I think it’s time that people know about this well-kept secret.”
Lenny Jacoby is a mother of two who works in the health industry as a qualified register nurse and has worked at both Royal Perth Hospital and Fiona Stanley Hospital. She has first-hand experience dealing with those that are experiencing homelessness and people in crisis especially due to health issues and domestic violence crimes.
She credits her husband for his support so she is able to take time out to do this.
Essentials for Women and Ruah
Essentials for Women of Perth works in partnership with RUAH Community Services to generate awareness and provide essential items for women in crisis care and homelessness.
Its aim is to become a not for profit that will continue to provide these essential items to organisations that help women in crisis.
A first for this year’s campaign is that many regional centres all over WA will have collection points and will be part of the campaign. Homelessness in regional areas is rarely highlighted.
The Essentials for Women of Perth campaign has received significant business support with a number of organisations donating goods or providing their premise as a drop off centre for donations in the area. These businesses are:
The Cornerstone Ale House
Endota Day Spa
Green Bean Accountants
Put It Out There
Robert Walters & Associates
Seadragonz Swim School
Simplicity Funerals Osborne Park
Simplicity Funerals Kelmscott
Simplicity Funerals Joondalup
Simplicity Funerals Mandurah
Totally Sound Health
To find out how you can help or for the nearest drop off point near you please see the links below:
The Essentials For Women website:
The Essentials for Women of Perth facebook page:
The Essentials for Women of Perth event page:
• Over a period of 37 years a woman will have 400 menstrual cycles.
• Each woman uses around 300 disposable tampons or pads products every year and an astonishing 10,000 over her lifetime.