Germantown is a neighborhood of historical Black firsts, like the first petition against slavery and the first Black man to own a department store. But, history is still being made every day within community borders. Last Sunday, February 20, the nation’s first menstrual hub, The SPOT Period, celebrated one year of operation right here in Germantown. Co-founder, Lynette Medley, reflects on being a part of history.
“My interns and folks who work with us are always like, “Miss Lynette, you and Nya have made history, and people need to know about it, and we need to keep claiming it,” says Medley about the reception of her work. “So yeah, we are Black history right here.”
The SPOT (Safety Programming, Optimal Transformation) Period opened last year through crowdfunding efforts by Medley and her daughter, Nya McGlone. The hub serves as a safe space for marginalized communities in Philadelphia. According to their website, period poverty is “the inability to access or afford menstrual hygiene products.” They also state that “lack of toilets, running waters, and waste management services can intensify period poverty.”
This haven of resources is a product of the nonprofit that houses them, No More Secrets, Mind Body Spirit Inc., the nation’s first sexuality awareness and consultative organization founded in 2012. The hub helps carry out the organization’s overarching mission of eradicating societal stigma and dispersing resources to decrease uterine care and menstrual health disparities. The hub contains various services that help provide menstrual supplies to people and provide educational opportunities.
The SPOT Period offers a computer room and wifi accessibility, a reception area, storage space for menstrual supplies, and a safe room named in honor of Breonna Taylor. This room provides comfort and affinity to girls and women of marginalized identities to have vulnerable conversations. Their website cites the safe room as an “epicenter of educational seminars and panel discussions around normalizing menstrual cycles, health and hygiene, uterine care, and proper usage of sustainable.”
Medley says racist systems keep different groups of people from having the same access to menstrual supplies. “When 85% of Black and Brown bleeding bodies were suffering, you added menstrual products to flexible spending and not Medicaid, Medicare, WIC, or SNAP,” she says about CARES Act. “That was for the haves and not the have nots. It’s a blatant disregard for the people who are dealing with socio-economic issues.”
The co-founder says that Black and Brown communities must obtain access to these resources because they are the most affected by period poverty. She realized a need for this work within marginalized communities when she engaged with a young person who uses the SPOT’s services.
Medley recalls the young person asking, “Miss Lynette, can I keep it real?” She obliged. The girl replied, “You’re telling me about protecting my body and not engaging, but this is survival for me. I have to sleep, engage, and steal to get a pad or a tampon for me and my younger sisters and my mom.”
Medley said her jaw dropped hearing that. She said those sentiments expanded her thinking of who is affected by period poverty. She realized it wasn’t just people behind bars or living in independent care; many may suffer in silence. Since that day, Medley expanded the scope and thought of her work.
Before the pandemic hit, she and Nya did 75 deliveries a week. After the pandemic hit, it went up to 300 deliveries a week. They have already helped more than 250,000 people within the first year through their three pillars of service: resources, education, and outreach.
Medley and her daughter have been recognized for their efforts, too. In 2019, NMS, MBS Inc received a resolution, which recognized May 28 as “Menstrual Hygiene Day.” Philly Mag recognized them as the Best Rising Wellness Organization in the city for Best of Philly 2021. And while Medley appreciates the recognition, she emphasizes that receiving funding for this work is more important.
She says, “I want to fund the work that we do. I need city, state, and government funding because we are still doing all of this mostly through donations and charitable contributions.”
Medley wants to remind the community that a great way to support The SPOT Period is financially. They are still funded by the community and through donations. You can visit nomoresecretsmbs.org to find multiple ways to do so.
The Germantown Info Hub is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.