Trixie Hernandez and Tessa Yin are celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. While many people opt for flowers and chocolates as gifts for their sweethearts, the UBC students have decided that they are dedicating February 14 as a day to pamper and celebrate the women living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Hernandez and Yin plan to donate 300 personalized cosmetic goodie bags to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Shelter and Wish Vancouver; organizations that support at-risk women who have experienced domestic abuse, human trafficking and those who live below the poverty line.
Hernandez and Yin wanted to help create positive change for the women living in one of Vancouver’s most impoverished areas. After some online research, Hernandez says that she discovered an organization in Britain specifically donating feminine hygiene and makeup products to women living in poverty. Unfortunately, the charity ran its course after it could not keep up with the high influx of donations.
Hernandez and Yin decided to carry on the legacy and start their own charity called The Foundation Foundation, in order to provide the women of the DTES with cosmetics, feminine hygiene products, bras and bath supplies.
In homage to their efforts to make women feel special this Valentine’s Day, the two have decided to call their event ‘Galentine’s Day’ after they got the idea watching a Valentine’s Day episode of the sitcom Parks and Rec. “It’s all about ladies celebrating ladies,” Hernandez told Vancity Buzz.
The Foundation Foundation is asking for the following items to be donated for their Galentine’s Day event:
*They do not accept and used mascara with applicators or used deodorant
What The Foundation Foundation does is especially important because the personal needs of women living poverty often go overlooked. A recent article published by Al Jazeera highlights that sanitary pads and tampons are some of the most needed items for women living on the streets and in shelters. Access to these feminine hygiene necessities are hard to come by because shelters cannot afford to supply them.
Toiletries are usually not the items that people have in mind when they donate to homeless charities and shelters as clothing and food usually top the list. Even when toiletries are donated, it is very rare that we think of the specific items women require.
One of The Foundation Foundation’s main goals is to boost the self-esteem of disadvantaged women. While sanitary pads and tampons are necessary female hygiene supplies, they also make women feel that they can deal with their needs in a safe and private matter.
Many women living on the streets are victims of emotional, psychological, physical and sexual abuse. It is difficult for these women to maintain a positive sense of self when they constantly struggle to find basic resources such as a safe place to sleep or bathe. A little bit of make up, some skin care products and body wash can go a long way in making women overcoming trauma feel special and beautiful.
Moreover, some of the most disadvantaged and marginalized women on the streets are transgender women, as they risk rejection from gender-segregated shelters, limiting the access they get to cosmetics, toiletries and hygiene products. When trans women are not given a safe space and the items they need to take care of themselves, they are left vulnerable to discrimination and violence.
Currently, Hernandez and Yin are the only two members of The Foundation Foundation. They do everything from organizing events to collecting donations. The Foundation Foundation is currently based at UBC, but Hernandez and Yin are hoping to expand and get more people involved with their project.
If you would like to donate any cosmetic or hygiene products to The Foundation Foundation’s Galentine’s Day event, or for general information about the organization, you can contact them at [email protected] or check out the Facebook page.
Valentine’s Day can be more than just flowers and chocolate and it doesn’t take much to show a little love to those who need it the most.
Feature image: Tessa Yin and Trixie Hernandez of The Foundation Foundation / Image: Gracia Chua