Mission: Dignity

Nancy Blount credits two men for helping her find her ultra-feminine passion project—her husband David and TV personality Mike Rowe.

David was enjoying Rowe’s Facebook Watch series, “Returning the Favor,” when a nonprofit called I Support the Girls was featured.

“David said, ‘Nancy, you’d love this!’ and had me watch it, too,” she recalls. “And he was right! I thought, ‘This is something we need here,’ and I reached out to headquarters and became affiliate director of the Tampa Bay branch.”

What Nancy directs is the collection and distribution of essential items—bras, underwear, and feminine hygiene products—for women who might otherwise have to choose between feeding themselves or their family and their personal health. I Support the Girls distributes these items to girls and women experiencing homelessness or poverty, escaping domestic violence or human trafficking, refugees and evacuees, and those reentering society after incarceration.

“Bras are considered a luxury and may be the last thing a woman buys for herself,” Nancy explains, even though wearing the same bra for years can cause health problems. Bras, underwear and menstrual hygiene items are some of the most needed but least donated items, according to many organizations who serve women and girls. “Sports bras are the number one request from women in homeless shelters,” Nancy shares. “The next most requested are smaller sized bras for girls.”   

Imagine being a young girl in Tampa Bay today, forced to miss several days of school each month because you don’t have access to menstrual hygiene items. How you possibly stay at grade level? And how hard would you work to hide why you’re missing school? How would that make you feel? Now imagine the physical and emotional discomfort of wearing an ill-fitting bra—or no bra—day in and day out. These simple items are crucial to a woman or girl’s sense of dignity and self-esteem.

Since she established the Tampa Bay branch in July of 2019, Nancy has collected and distributed 2,000 bras, 1,800 pairs of underwear and 25,000 menstrual hygiene products to 20 organizations. She works with sororities, church groups, individuals and local businesses to collect donations and with homeless and domestic violence shelters and schools to distribute them. It’s a network she’s working hard to continue growing.

It’s been a blessing—and surprise—Nancy says, how very generous the community is once the need is known. The response can even be a bit overwhelming as bras, underwear and boxes of hygiene products have taken over much of her home. “My husband very cheerfully parks in the driveway because he knows our garage is full of pads and tampons,” she laughs. Her sons also contribute to the wonderful chaos: “Our older son lives in Orlando, but brings me boxes of donated items every time he visits.” Her younger son, in college, collects donations from fellow students—and brings them over to volunteer to wash, sort and package the undergarments for distribution. Even the family dogs get into the act, though their “help” in sorting the bras generally looks more like a spirited game of keep away—or the nap afterward.

For someone who grew up in a small farming community where neighbors helping neighbors was the norm and has been a guardian ad litem for five years, working with I Support the Girls feeds Nancy’s soul—and opens her eyes. “You certainly can’t judge a book by its cover,” she says. “You never know someone’s story–unless they share it. That woman on the street might be running from her abuser. That little girl at your daughter’s school might be homeless. One of our most generous donors shared that she herself was once homeless and what I Support the Girls would have meant to her then.” 

If you’d like to get involved with I Support the Girls in Tampa Bay, visit the Facebook page for details about hosting a donation drive or a collection bin; volunteering to wash and sort donated items and more!

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