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Veeda and Peach Coven collaboration

September 13, 2016

Veeda and Peach Coven collaboration

The Peach Coven collects menstrual products to donate to Atlanta’s homeless populations. We are thrilled to have made a Veeda donation to them and support the monthly bleeders in Atlanta. For more info on their mission and project, please check the interview below with the founder Sarah Belle.

Many great organizations are started because of a personal experience. Please share your inspiration?

-I grew up in Los Angeles with my mom and sister. It’s a well known fact that LA has one of the largest homeless populations in the country. There, homeless people and communities aren’t just something you’ll witness in some parts of town. These people are neighbors, staple figures, or friends. My family and I struggled with our own experience of poverty throughout my life, and we only transcended it by working together and supporting each other. I know from my experience and from other peoples stories that it’s near impossible to escape the vicious cycle once you’ve hit rock bottom and society has cast you aside. That being said I always try to be aware of the homeless communities and their needs wherever I live. A few months after I moved to Atlanta I read a couple articles about other groups providing hygiene items to impoverished people in other cities. After some research I learned there wasn’t one group in Atlanta providing menstrual care to the shelters and homeless here consistently every month. That same day I coordinated our first pad and tampon drive.

 What is the mission of Peach Coven?

 -Our mission is to provide dignity, with a heavy focus on menstrual and general hygiene, to individuals experiencing severe poverty without judgment or prejudice. A part of our foundation is also social justice. We are working on our programs to better support the LGBTQ community in Atlanta, and we publicly support other civil/human rights groups dedicated to breaking down the barriers to equal rights for all. 

How difficult was it to go from idea to actual implementation?

-Amazingly, going from idea to implementation wasn’t difficult at all. I started out by speaking to friends, contacting venues, and businesses about coordinating drives through Facebook.  I received nothing but positive response. Atlanta is a truly incredible city filled with people who genuinely care for the well being of others. I believe that if I had started this somewhere else I probably would’ve had a much harder time getting the organization to where it is today.

What have been some of your biggest challenges so far? What are the challenges behind finding partners for the menstruation kits and creating on-going collaborations with them?

-Some of the biggest challenges so far have been essentially figuring out how to best structure and book our drives. We’ve had many that resulted in anything from no donations at all, to maybe $3 and a hand full of pads. Not every event or venue is right for this work. It really has to do with the type of event, the perspective of the people going, the location of the venue, etc.

 -As for finding partners, there’s no lack in enthusiasm from folks who want to be involved. We don’t have a huge amount of volunteer opportunities so it falls on us to stay in consistent contact with people, work on future collaborations, while staying mindful of everyone’s busy lives. We try to make up for any void through staying up to date with our social media pages, monthly newsletter, and having a donation bin set up at a business for the duration of any given month.

How do you communicate your values, stand out in the crowd and get attention both in the online and offline world?

-For one our name stands out- not many organizations have names like The Peach Coven. I chose that name because to me the Peach doesn’t only represent Georgia (the peach state) but also the vagina. A true Coven is not a group of witches like we’ll see in the movies, but the ancient witch was a female healer, leader, and source of central support and care in tribes and villages. That’s how we identify as a Coven- as a group who’re trying to provide love, health, and healing to others.

-Online we choose to focus on expressing through art, creativity, activism, and the list goes on. Everyone involved with this organization is a creative and activist in some way. I believe expressing our values through that holds true to our self-identities, as well as successfully represents our cause.

-Offline is the same deal essentially. We hand write all of our signs, with lots of color, our logo, designed by local artist Anna Jacobsen, is very unique to us as well. Our buttons and shirts are handmade and designed by other local artists. We pretty much try to put our own personalities into the organization. In my opinion it’s very important for peoples individualities to shine in everything we do.

How do female activists like you confront the social stigma around menstruation? Why is it important to change the dialogue around periods?

-Confronting the social stigma around periods is no easy task. Our biggest way to confront this is by openly and positively talking about periods, with anyone no matter their age or gender. Sometimes we don’t get a great response but frankly folks need to accept that periods should not and never be considered taboo. I have no sympathy for anyone, and any culture that period shame. My hope is that helping kids, and teens understand that it’s normal will change the dialogue for future generations, and help illuminate this ridiculous attitude towards menstruation. Its important to change the dialogue because a huge reason why many people don’t realize that there’s this void in menstrual hygiene within homelessness is because our brains are pretty much trained to not think or acknowledge periods unless it’s directly happening to us.

How many care packages have been assembled until now in Peach Coven?

-We rotate between what we call ‘kit months’ and ‘bulk months’ in our donating. Since March we’ve donated over 20,000 hygiene items, and over 300 period kits to shelters and homeless individuals in the Atlanta area. Our period kits are designed to fully protect an average menstrual cycle. Every kit is a reusable tote bag containing one pack of sanitary wipes, 15 tampons, 15 pads, and 20 pantiliners.

What’s your motivational mantra and who inspires you?

-My motivational mantra is (honestly) “Do no harm, take no shit”. Some wouldn’t consider that as appropriate or inspiring, but The Peach Coven isn’t in the business of being appropriate and those words resonate with me more than any others. In this work we are up against mountains of stigma. Overcoming the judgments in place of menstruation and homelessness, while maintaining our purpose to do good and spread positivity is a delicate balance.

-The people who most inspire me are all the other folks across the U.S. who’ve dedicated a huge portion of their lives to helping other people, animals, or the environment. This work requires sacrifice. You’ll sacrifice judgment, self-importance, and self-care falls by the waist side half the time, but it’s so worth it. Any individual who is faced with the question of “how will I survive today” don’t have the luxury of judgment, self-importance, or self-care. Therefore the people I see who are willing to let go of some of their own personal luxuries to help a fellow living thing amaze and inspire me everyday.

What has been the greatest success for Peach Coven so far?

-I’d say the greatest success for The Peach Coven so far has simply been how many donations we’ve collected. We’re nearing our six month anniversary in September and as a grassroots local charity having donated over 20,000 items is not bad in my opinion. We have a very small staff but we all work really hard to coordinate drives as often as possible while connecting with a variety of individuals, businesses, and communities throughout the city. That I know is how we’ve been able to have this success.

What hopes do you have for the future?

-Our hope for the future is to start donating menstrual products to jails/prisons, foster homes and second chance homes. We also plan to introduce workshops, educational talks and volunteer programs for middle school and high school students. We’re currently working on our first reusable menstrual cup drive with women’s health writer, Christina Vanvuren, who’s partnered with us to introduce reusable menstrual products into the Atlanta shelters with workshops to explain use and item care. Eventually we plan to branch out and open chapters in other towns and cities in Georgia as well.