Miami Palmetto High School senior Condoleezza Alexis is Palmetto’s Silver Knight nominee in the Business category.
A year ago, she started a non-profit called Bleeding Hearts Across America.
“Our focus is on helping women on or below the poverty line,” she says. “Our main focus is on feminine hygiene.
The non-profit deals with making sure women have access to period products and they work on educating women in about things like period poverty.
“Period poverty is the impoverished state created by the price of feminine hygiene products,” she says.
In fact, Alexis says for some women, it’s a choice between buying feminine hygiene products or feeding their families.
“We aim to spread awareness, and eventually have them be more affordable,” she says.
Even with newer reusable options such as diva cups or period panties, the cost is difficult for women to deal with.
“It’s hard to spring for the period panties,” she says. “Some women don’t have the choice. Pads are less expensive at first.”
Even then, some women must ration their supplies or even reuse pads.
“It’s become such a problem, that one in five girls miss school because of their periods,” she says.
Alexis says there is movement in recognizing the issue. More states are requiring that period products – often pads or tampons – be available at school for girls who need them.
“In my school, my organization has been discussing building a period pantry,” she says.
Currently there are teachers or staff members who purchase the products to have them available for girls in need.
Bleeding Hearts Across America has partnered with Healthy Little Havana on a feminine product distribution drive.
“We provided feminine hygiene products, pads, panty liners, and feminine hygiene wipes,” she says. “We also provided tampons for women who preferred that.”
They also opened a period pantry with feminine hygiene bags filled with enough products to last a month.
“Every month we refill the pantry,” Alexis says. “We have brochures that we give out, giving women resources where they can go for what they need.”
Healthy Little Havana hands out approximately 100 bags per month. If there are special events, Bleeding Hearts for America volunteers hand out 200-300 bags.
One thing that Alexis has noticed is that although talking about periods and period products can be embarrassing, boys at school are supportive.
“We did a huge drive, it was mostly guys who gave tampons, and they gave full packs,” she says.
She plans to continue to work with other organizations, including Volunteering Miami, to reach out to more communities.
“We would like to have a women’s volunteer fair to provide information to women in the area and host it in Palmetto,” she says.
At Palmetto, Alexis is vice president of the Debate Club and vice president of the African Heritage Club. She says the focus is to bring awareness about African influences in music, food and fashion, and to bring people together.
She’s also vice president of the Creative Writing Club. Club members issued a new literary magazine last year and are hard at work on the next one. They hope to have it out earlier than May this time.
She’s also president of Women of Tomorrow.
“We bring in guest speakers for different meetings and we focus on at risk women,” she says.
Alexis applied to the University of San Francisco, New York University, the University of Chicago, Columbia and Cornell for college. Her career goal is to become a lawyer but she’s still deciding on her undergraduate major. She’s torn between English, History and Creative Writing.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld
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