It all started with a Facebook post.
Cattie Jensen, booking agent at the Avenue Café, was chatting with a bartender about setting up a station at the Avenue where customers could pick up menstrual hygiene products.
“We wondered if we should do a fundraiser to save up money for some products,” Jensen said.
She posted the idea on Facebook to gauge interest.
“There was an overwhelming response overnight,” she said. “I had about a hundred notifications by the time I woke up the next morning.”
Through social media, she connected with Lysne Beckwith Tait, co-director of Helping Women Period, a local nonprofit that distributes menstrual hygiene products to homeless and low-income women.
“I was astounded that there was a charity in the city that dealt with that kind of thing,” Jensen said. “I wrote to her immediately.”
Tait and Jensen worked together to organize Grrrls Just Wanna Have Fun, a day-long concert and fundraiser for Helping Women Period that comes to the Avenue Saturday. Visitors can check out live music, browse a pop-up shop from the Record Lounge, enter raffles and silent auctions and learn about women’s and LGBTQ issues. There is no entrance fee, but guests are asked to donate a box of tampons or pads or make a small monetary donation.
The day is split into three portions: a daytime show and a nighttime show with an hour of informational talks sandwiched between. Local comedian Taylor De La Ossa kicks things off shortly after noon, followed by a lineup of mostly female-fronted bands and solo acts, including singer/songwriter Frances Bennigan, folk singer Charlie Darling and Minnow Belly, a new solo project by Lindsey Taylor of Luxury Flux.
At 6 p.m., the music gives way to presentations from local leaders and activists, including Harriet McTigue of the MSU Sexual Assault program. Representatives from Gateway Youth Services and the MSU’s LBGT Resource Center discuss their organizations’ work and Megan Blue, legislative aide to state Rep. Sarah Roberts, speaks on taxation of menstrual products.
The nighttime lineup starts with singer/songwriter worm at 7 p.m., followed by experimental rock group Mr. Denton on Doomsday, indie rock outfit Odds Fish, alt-rock trio Luxury Flux (formerly Sumarah), rock ‘n’ roll group Scary Women, feminist rock band the Free Bleeders and punk group girlband.
Like the fundraiser, Helping Women Period got its start with a Facebook post that snowballed into something greater. A year and a half ago, Tait and co-director Amy Stephenson were discussing an article they saw online that discussed the struggle many women go through to get pads and tampons.
“We thought, ‘We should do something about this,’“ said Tait.
The two used Facebook to invite friends to a fundraiser breakfast.
“We posted it on Sunday. By Tuesday, we had to change the venue because we had over 100 people,” Tait recalled. “By Thursday, we decided to make a nonprofit.”
Helping Women Period collects donated menstrual products and relies on volunteers to make decorated bags and discreetly deliver the products to women in need. Tait hopes that Saturday’s event will help the local community see the need for groups like Helping Women Period.
“It’s a tragedy that there are women out there who have to decide between spending money on tampons or spending money on food,” Tait said. “The more who know, the better.”
Grrrls Just Wanna Have Fun
Fundraiser for Helping Women Period
Noon-2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
Free, donations of boxed pads/tampons or money accepted
The Avenue Café 2021 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing