SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — In 2014, Emma and Quinn Joy of South Orange, now ages 17 and 13, respectively, heeded the call to give back to the wider community when they founded Girls Helping Girls. Period., a nonprofit organization that provides feminine hygiene products to teens and adults who cannot afford them. Now, members of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, where the Joys are members, are expanding their social action initiatives by supporting the Joys’ community service work.
The teens founded GHGP after discovering girls in their school district were skipping school when they had their periods because they could not afford adequate feminine hygiene products; there are women who miss work for the same reason. What started out as a home party to collect supplies turned into Girls Helping Girls. Period. The organization is dedicated to educating people on the need for feminine hygiene products for those in need, and collects and distributes these products through school systems, food pantries and social service agencies. Their mother, Elise Joy, serves as its executive director.
GHGP gained wider notice from the Reform congregation at an event last September hosted by the Women’s Connection, TSTI’s multi-generational women’s group. Elise spoke about the issue facing underprivileged women in the Essex County area and a light went off for Jodi Katz of Maplewood, owner of Base Beauty, a creative agency in New York City that specializes in health and beauty.
“I’d been thinking of pro bono work that aligns with our agency’s focus,” Katz, who had just joined TSTI at the time, said in a press release. “After hearing Elise speak, I knew I’d found the fit.”
She now serves as marketing mentor to Emma and Quinn, helping them develop their messaging and brand presence and organize their social media efforts.
“I’m so glad I attended that Women’s Connection event; I would not have discovered the Joys’ work without Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel connecting me to them,” Katz said. She added that her children are also getting involved in social action through projects at TSTI that benefit the less fortunate.
Attorney Jennifer Weiss-Wolf of Maplewood has been a lifelong activist for reproductive rights and women’s health; when she saw a Facebook post about Girls Helping Girls. Period., she knew she had to get involved. She joined the board of GHGP last year and has written a book on menstruation as a political matter. She has had several op-eds published in the New York Times about the issue; the first one included a photo of Emma and Quinn and talked about their initiative.
“My passion about affordability and access to feminine hygiene products was ignited when I met with Elise,” Weiss-Wolf, who is working with legislators to craft laws to benefit girls and women in public schools, shelters and jails, said in the release. “I never forget that I learned of this issue from her daughters. The biggest way I can support GHGP is through my writing and advocacy, which gives them greater exposure.”
Social worker Shelley Sadow Frankel of Millburn was at a TSTI meeting about another project when, in talking afterward to Elise Joy, she learned of Girls Helping Girls. Period. She immediately thought of her clients who could use the help. Frankel works with disadvantaged children in Essex and Hudson counties’ inner cities.
“I called Elise with the names of 10 different parents and teens and they each got a year’s supply of feminine products. GHGP is touching lives in so many areas. It’s wonderful how one chance meeting at TSTI could help people I serve,” Sadow Frankel said in the release.
Energized by the Joys’ community service, Sadow Frankel solicited donations for families in Jersey City, Irvington and North Bergen. After discussing Girls Helping Girls. Period. with Women’s Connection members, it was decided the group would ask for and accept donations at every event. The TSTI religious school is also a supporter. In March, it sponsored a fitness class for parents with free admission for those who brought products or a monetary donation.
In late March, GHGP took in a truckload of nearly 2,000 cases of donated feminine hygiene products — the single largest donation it has received to date. Members of TSTI were among the volunteers who arrived at dawn to unload and stack the cartons in a storage unit for distribution. For information about how to support Girls Helping Girls. Period., visit www.girlshelpinggirlsperiod.org.