Sparkt Bridges

Helping Women & Girls Maintain Their Dignity

All it took was noticing women going without something they desperately needed.

This story is part of a bi-weekly series that celebrates people who are reaching across a divide to "build bridges" with those different from themselves. The Sparkt Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC.

Tamara Whiting always knew she wanted to do something to make an impact on the community and give back to others.

She wasn't quite sure what that "something" should be.

Then she discovered a secret need that she knew she could fulfill.

And we mean it when we say secret.

Not only did most people not recognize it as a need, it was something most people don't want to talk about.

But Tamara and her team are talking about it -- and they're doing something about it -- with a non-profit organization called SisterFriend.

Tamara and her board of directors and volunteers are continuing to grow the non-profit, serving women who are homeless, and young women through their schools with SisterFriend supply packets (that's Pittsburgh Arsenal Middle School nurse practitioner Cassandra Brown with Tamara in the top image).

Four Pittsburgh city schools, plus several charter schools, have SisterFriend Closets.

Now they have their sights set on changing the way women in jail are treated.

Tamara says in the Allegheny County Jail, for example, female inmates have to use their commissary money to buy menstrual hygiene products. She and her group will advocate for a free, unlimited supply. "That will be our next target to really try to influence that and talk to the powers that be," she said.

"This is something that should be given to inmates as a human right."

Click here to support SisterFriend with your donations of money. Click here to find out how to donate products (FYI, in addition to tampons and pads, they also distribute panties and bras to women and girls who need them) and click here to find out how to volunteer.

The Sparkt Bridges Project is produced with the generous support of UPMC. Life Changing Medicine.

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