Uplifting way to support women in need

Gravity impacts everyone, but for women it can present its unique challenges. Oak Harbor resident Kate Mistler is offering support.

The bra as we know it today was invented in 1914, but females had been using other methods of containment for ages. For most women, they’re considered a necessity. But when clothing drives and donations are made to benefit the homeless, they are often overlooked.

Mistler recently learned about the nonprofit organization I Support the Girls, which collects and distributes bras and feminine hygiene products to local women in need.

“It made me feel guilty because it’s something I should’ve thought of before but never did,” she said. “It’s something we take for granted.”

There are 50 affiliates of the organization across the U.S. and abroad, but Mistler noticed a lack of presence on the West Coast.

She’s doing all she can to address the issue, but she said she could use help. Recently, she and her friend Kristi Lovelady stood outside Walmart in Oak Harbor for five hours with a poster board explaining the issue and a box full of bras, sanitary pads and tampons.

“We’re getting the word out, and it’s going better than I anticipated,” Mistler said.

Her efforts have only continued to ramp up. She has arranged to take collections in front of Walmart again Tuesday, March 19; Saturday, April 13 and Saturday, April 27. She placed a garbage bin —- decorated with bright drawings of a bra, tampon and sanitary pad —- for collections in front of her house and will accept donations at any time. She’s been in contact with The Goose Community Grocer in Langley and Payless Foods in Freeland about setting up a table and collecting on the South End as well.

If groups get together and collect several items, she said she’ll pick them up. One of her contributors chooses to remain anonymous and orders donations online and ships them to Mistler, she said.

Every item collected will be distributed locally, she said.

She logs and tracks each product she receives, makes bags with assorted sizes and feminine hygiene products. She has dropped off the collections at the Whidbey Homeless Coalition and Ryan’s House and plans on stopping at the Haven homeless shelter and the Garage of Blessings soon. She’s hoping more volunteers will step up as the word gets out.

She only learned about I Support the Girls a month ago after watching an episode of the Facebook series “Returning the Favor.”

“I’ve always donated to different causes,” Mistler said, “but I’ve never gotten into it full bore like I am now.”

As she watched the show, she was struck by stories of women using cardboard or newspapers in lieu of sanitary pads. She knows people are sometimes uncomfortable talking about menstruation or bras, but she’s trying to change that because it’s a real issue facing women in the community.

Eventually, she wants to expand the cause to the regional level.

“We are trying to bring awareness here,” she said. “And this is just the beginning.”

• To learn more about donating or volunteering, contact Kate Mistler at 360-678-2090 or paminron@gmail.com. Donations can be delivered or shipped to 1008 Diane Ave., Oak Harbor, WA 98277

More in News

Advisory Board holding public hearing on draft short-term rental ordinance

What rules should apply to homeowners who rent out houses, rooms or… Continue reading

Island County seeking District 1 applicants for planning commission

The Island County Board of Commissioners is seeking applicants from District 1,… Continue reading

Whidbey Community Foundation Receives $10K for census work

Whidbey Community Foundation received $10,000 in funding from the Washington Census Equity… Continue reading

WICA announces auditions for 20th season

The 2019-20 season marks Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ 20th theater… Continue reading

Hands off the baby seals

Advocates for marine mammals are making their annual pitch to beach watchers… Continue reading

Former bank employee sentenced for theft

A former employee at an Oak Harbor bank was sentenced to jail… Continue reading

Commission OKs changes to fall bear-hunting rules

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved changes to the fall bear-hunting… Continue reading

Earthquake felt on Whidbey Island

People across Whidbey Island were awakened by an earthquake early Friday morning.… Continue reading

Conservation District looks at ‘rates and charges’ system

Whidbey Island Conservation District officials are considering going to a different kind… Continue reading

Most Read