Dr. Elesia Glover is the founder and president of Posh Pack, a nonprofit organization that provides feminine hygiene essentials to students. The organization also works to educate elected officials and the general public on the importance of alleviating period poverty.
The organization donated 3,000 pads in 2018. Now, Posh Pack donates 22,000 pads annually and has expanded to schools in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia – with plans to move to even more states soon.
Elesia had the idea for Posh Pack when she was working in Washington DC. A few of her colleagues were involved in organizations that helped bring feminine hygiene products to homeless and incarcerated women.
“I thought that was very interesting. But when I decided to learn more about it, I saw that there was a gap in support for students,” Elesia explains.
As she continued to dig into the research, she found a staggering statistic.
“I saw that one in five girls in the US misses school time because of lack of access to feminine hygiene,” Elesia shares.
Addressing the Gap in Support
She reached out to social workers, teachers and nurses in schools to learn more about the issue from people who work with students on a daily basis.
“Everybody I talked to agreed that it was a problem that no one was talking about. It ran the spectrum of ages from elementary to high school,” she says.
Once she realized there was a gap that needed to be addressed, Elesia got to work forming Posh Pack. She worked with a physician’s assistant to create straightforward cards on menstrual health to include along with the supply of pads in pink and purple bags.
But the cards are just one of Posh Pack’s educational strategies. This nonprofit also works to educate elected officials about the reality of period poverty.
“Most of them are unaware of period poverty or the inequities within menstrual health and how important this is for girls in terms of self-confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, and the ability to focus in class. All of those things are very much paired with the ability to take care of your feminine hygiene,” Elesia adds.
Elesia has a Ph.D. in public policy and this makes her especially poised to bring the issue of period poverty to the attention of lawmakers.
“That definitely helps my ability to research and understand legislative landscapes in terms of how things are crafted and how to craft messaging for elected officials to understand why this is important. So my education certainly serves as a foundation. It gives me the ability to see big picture things and kind of drill them down to actionable items,” she explains.
Shifting During the Pandemic
Just before the pandemic hit, Posh Pack had started expanding to more schools. But once these schools switched to remote learning, Elesia says her organization had to find another way to help.
“There’s no way we were just going to stop,” she says. “So we shifted and started giving to food banks and homeless shelters and ministries.”
Elesia explains that Posh Pack, like many nonprofits, had to get creative during the pandemic.
“It certainly was a challenge,” she adds.
Collaborate for Change
Elesia encourages future changemakers to find their passion and be inspired. And once they have an idea, go for it.
“It only takes one person to start to help. If no one starts it, it never happens,” she emphasizes. “So you have to start.”
Elesia always believed in the power of collaboration. But working with food banks during the pandemic really reinforced this idea for her. “Progress can be slow-moving, but it’s still worth it. Keep at it and be open to collaboration,” she shares. “Our ability to collaborate with other partners has been really, really helpful and impactful. In the pandemic, we wouldn’t have been able to be that impactful if we had not partnered with food banks and ministries.”