If there's anyone that loves and celebrates periods as much as we do, it's Chelsea VonChaz. She is the founder of Happy Period, an organization we partner with that provides menstrual hygiene kits to local women who are homeless, low-income, or living in poverty. Founded in 2015, Happy Period began as a movement in Downtown Los Angeles's Skid Row.
Like Rael, VonChaz and Happy Period believe no one should go without menstrual care and are on a mission to end the stigma around menstruation. That's precisely why we were excited to chat with VonChaz to learn more about how the organization came to be, her relationship with her period, and what Happy Period is working on next.
What sparked the idea to start Happy Period?
"I basically told all my girlfriends what I saw—a homeless woman bleeding through her pants. From there, it was a collaborative effort. My mom and I and five girlfriends pitched in on the idea. It kind of just came together like a huge puzzle within the span of a week or two. My mom came up with the name. One girlfriend was volunteering with another organization and we decided to come together to do a distribution day and then go by shelters. We just figured things out as we went. After the first donation, there was such a positive and overwhelming feeling that it led us to want to do it again. After four months of packing and going to shelters, I decided to create Happy Period as an official charity."
Tell us about your period experience.
"I've gone up and down roller coaster stages with my period. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I'm okay. Sometimes I hate it, and I don't want it. In getting to know my period, I've learned a lot more about my body, and that's something that was inspired by Happy Period. In maintaining my routine, it's shifted from a bad relationship to having a much better relationship with my period."
Speaking of period routines, what is yours like?
What is Happy Period working on now?
"In addition to our packing events for homeless women and women in need, we rolled out a menstrual health program in January 2020. We were going to schools and community centers to give products to students and the school. This has been great for us to educate girls on their bodies and what their periods are like. Many schools provide sexual education but they never talk about menstrual education. It's been rewarding for teenagers to be responsive when it comes to talking about periods and being vulnerable enough to ask questions about their bodies. A lot of these girls don't have anywhere to go to talk about their periods and are unsure of what their bodies are going through."
How have things changed due to COVID-19?
We've shifted our program to digital with a free period guide, which is an essential tool for at-home menstrual care. The guide is completely free at HelloImMenstruating.com. I've suspended volunteer events and distributions until further notice. Life and safety are first. During the pandemic, we're depending on our partners like Rael to distribute donations to our tribe of organizations we provide donations to.
How can people get involved with Happy Period?
People can get involved and support Happy Period by making a contribution to our website. Join our mailing list for our newsletter called "Period Posse." Also, download our period guide if you haven't already. Eliminating the stigma by talking about periods or menstrual equity is still a huge duty that everyone can tackle.