After donating hotel amenities to local shelters I was overwhelmed to learn that individuals were living without basics like soap and feminine care products. Most homeless and women’s shelters do not have funding earmarked for hygiene products, and those that do have very little. Community contributions received by these organizations are erratic and items donated often do not meet the real demand for products most in need. Since toiletries are not covered under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), individuals and families seeking assistance can be forced to forgo products that are vital to good health.
After researching more about this unmet need, I became motivated to find a solution, and founded Amenity Aid – a nonprofit unlike any other in the United States. We ask shelters what hygiene products they need, and then provide them. Working closely with housing facilities to understand their diverse needs (such as product restrictions, client demographics, and average length of stay) we developed programs to efficiently meet the demand for personal care amenities. Regularly and upon request we provide full-size products to transitional housing facilities where clients stay on average 30-45 days, single-use sample-size products to emergency shelters, and travel-size products to community centers that assist the working poor.
Amenity Aid is a 100% volunteer-run 501(c)(3) public charity that has donated over 50,000 personal care products to Rhode Islanders in need since 2013. To better understand the needs of the people we serve, we have chosen to continuously support nine organizations throughout the state. Currently we provide toiletries to: Crossroads Rhode Island, Amos House, Sojourner House, House of Hope Community Development Corporation, Welcome House of South County, Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, Lucy’s Hearth, WARM Center and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.
Our fastest growing program is Lady Care Collection, an effort to bring awareness to the need for feminine care products in shelters and drive donations. Amenity Aid will be at this year’s Lady Project Summit collecting donations of tampons and sanitary napkins to help homeless and at-risk women in Rhode Island. This year all contributions will benefit the Amos House in Providence.
Liz Duggan, MBA is the founder and president of Amenity Aid where she handles the charity’s day-to-day activities, strategic and financial planning, marketing communications, community relations, and oversees three volunteer committees. To learn more about Amenity Aid please visit amenityaid.org, like them on Facebook, or follow them on twitter and instagram using the handle @amenityaid. Liz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.