Dignity Grows packing party Aug. 27

PHOTO: Students from Greater Portland Hillel pack up supply totes at Dignity Grows packing party at Lewis and Clark College in Portland. (Courtesy Dignity Grows)

Dignity Grows is having a party – and you’re invited! 
The group will host a packing party at 1 pm Sunday, Aug. 27 at Congregation Neveh Shalom, filling the group’s signature purple tote bags with menstrual and general hygiene products for those in need.
Dignity Grows is a national Jewish non-profit dedicated to ending what’s called “period poverty,” where those in need of menstrual supplies are forced to choose between buying those supplies or purchasing other essentials like food or housing. 
“If they don’t have enough money to buy the hygiene supplies, it’s embarrassing,” Bonnie Newman, head of Portland’s chapter of Dignity Grows. “It can be unhealthy. Frequently people miss work miss School.”
“The issue of period poverty is incomprehensible. Through the work of Dignity Grows our distribution partners, and especially our volunteers, the Jewish Federation is providing a lifeline,” added Federation Chief  Development Officer Wendy Kahn.“We are providing people with the opportunity to go to work or school with dignity. My hope and the hope of everyone who helps with this important effort is that one day this issue will be solved for good.”
While Oregon provides menstrual supplies at schools throughout the state, government programs like SNAP or WIC can’t be used to purchase these essentials. Dignity Grows, started in Portland in 2021, uses donations to purchase supplies from vendors and distribute packs to those in need through partner organizations. This distribution network covers a vast geographica area and serves a diverse range of communities, including A Safe Place, which supports victims of sexual violence in Clackamas County, and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, a community health center in Washington and Yamhill counties. Sometimes, staff from those agencies pick up the packs at the end of the party.
“We love to have them come in and tell stories about the people that are being impacted by our work, that’s a profound part of the packing experience for all of us,” Newman said.
Dignity Grows began nationally in 2019 through the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford (Conn.) and has distributed more than 15,000 of its tote bag kits each year. The local chapter, the 15th established nationally, is supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s Women’s Philanthropy. Newman helped establish Portland’s chapter when she and her husband moved here from Texas in 2021 as a way to meet the local community and also an embodiment of her Jewish values.
“It really embodies the values of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world),” Newman said. “We see it as a way to make the world a better place, to do for our neighbors what we would want done for us.”
Newman, along with Nancy Judson, Mindy Becker, Arlene Cogen and Mahri Weitz help manage the group, setting up the vendor agreements for supplies, liaising with the distribution partners and managing the logistics of the packing parties. They make sure to build a social hour in after everything is packed up – putting the “party” into the process and helping build the connections that brought Newman on board to begin with. 
“It’s a nice time for people to meet each other, get to know each other,” she said. “Sometimes we just get so busy in our own little worlds, we don’t have time to reach out to friends.”
To learn more, sign up for the packing party on Aug. 27, make a donation to Dignity Grows or join one of the committees, visit jewishportland.org/dignitygrows or contact Newman at bngatorfan1015@gmail.com. 


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