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NGO “Distributes Dignity” to Women in Need by Providing Female Essentials

NGO “Distributes Dignity” to Women in Need by Providing Female Essentials

If you are a woman and your life has gone into a bad place, the last thing on the minds of people who may help you is your specific female needs. Because it is not a comfortable topic for many and can be a culture taboo topic for others, the need for personal care products and items such as bras for women who are homeless or in crisis are not likely to come up as part of basic plans to give help. That is where Distributing Dignity steps in to fill a huge ‘nameless’ need for women.

Distributing Dignity gives feminine hygiene products and new bras to organizations which support women in need. Partners with Distributing Dignity include Robin’s Nest Inc., Center for Family Services, Libertae, Caring Hearts Ministry, Women Against Abuse, Camden County Women’s Center, Cathedral Kitchen, The Retreat Domestic Violence Services, SCO Family Services and more. These partners help women and their children with family-oriented services and places women can go for food and lodging if they need it. Some offer addiction services, counselling, help to leave an abusive situation, meals, help to find and keep jobs, crisis hotlines etc. Thanks to Distributing Dignity women can now receive the help they need which is specific to women and their bodies.

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At a shelter or when leaving an abusive situation, a woman may not have time to pack. This means, should she arrive with only the clothing on her back at some point she will need things such as feminine hygiene products and a new bra (after all they are worn daily for months) so that the other can be washed and hung to dry (which can take longer than overnight). The public donates clothing and other things to the homeless shelters and other organizations, but most donations are meant to be ‘generic’ in that they could be used for either gender or for multiple people who come and go. There are things which a woman will need that she will not otherwise have access to when she is suddenly on her own because most women who end up in shelters and those looking for jobs and recovering from addictions won’t have their own money to buy the products which they will need at certain parts of the month.

Restrictions in homeless shelters can limit the hours patrons are allowed to come and go, and at what hours men and women can use the restroom. A second problem is that many of the facilities do not want people to bring in personal items because there is no place to store them. There is the risk of theft with anyone who you try to take into a homeless shelter. You may have the hygiene gear but no access to use it during certain hours due to washroom restrictions. This isn’t something you can just change in view of the other ‘neighbours’ at the shelter, of course.

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Started in 2009 as a family project, Distributing Dignity grew over the years and after the passing of the founder’s mother in 2012 became an official organization to help women. It was started by Joanie Balderstone and her partner, Rebecca McIntire. Some of their first donations were gently used women’s business suits—which are also a necessity for women who do not  have their own clothing and need to look presentable for job interviews. In their own words:

“In 2009, we were providing assistance to a homeless day center in Camden, NJ by donating gently used business clothes for job interviews.  A woman at the day center thanked our group for the clothes and then told us she didn’t have a decent bra to wear underneath them.   She wasn’t the only one.  So we asked what else they needed.   The answer?  Pads and tampons.  As women, we couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to have an inadequate bra or none at all.  Moreover, we couldn’t comprehend rationing out monthly supplies or worse…going without them.   Compelled by this newly discovered need, we organized our first “Mardi Bra” party that was held on February 13, 2010.  We invited all the women we knew and each guest brought a new bra or a package of pads/tampons.  Many women brought bags full of donations.  It was a party with a purpose.”

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Reaction to the efforts has been extremely positive. A case worker for the Camden County Women’s Center was quoted in Huffington Post as saying that having a selection of shapes and sizes of feminine hygeine helped give the women a little boost—just the power to be able to choose for themselves.

If you would like to help, there are drop off locations available for Distributing Dignity if you are in New Jersey. Be a “cotton sponsor” for just $25 or pick your own amount to donate. Host your own Mardi-Bra party.  You can also shop their wishlist on Amazon or go to the shopping area of the Distributing Dignity website. Locally, you can find many women’s charities in the phone book, just pick one that has meaning for you and then give them a call to find out if they accept donations of gently used business clothing, bras, and unopened feminine hygiene products. You don’t have to be a super hero to save the world—just do something good in your own part of it.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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