Project Lotus Restoring Dignity works with homeless women in the Riverview area.

When you imagine a homeless person, what do you picture? Kendra Wilson, founder and president of Project Lotus Restoring Dignity, is willing to bet that 98 percent of readers visualize men. However, one third of the homeless population are women with unique challenges, and that’s why her nonprofit is so very important.

“I always had compassion for the underserved,” Wilson said. “I was wondering what to do for an initiative. What about feminine hygiene products? We give shampoos, toothpaste, socks, but we often don’t think about these. What does this group of people use? It’s often unsafe items. Women in unstable housing conditions often go without or have to choose whether to get something to eat or buy tampons.”

Believe it or not, there are no federal funds allocated specifically for feminine hygiene products, and Wilson knew she had to start the conversation.

From a small group filling Ziploc bags, Wilson’s vision has grown exponentially. Project Lotus Restoring Dignity recently received over $900 worth of sanitary feminine hygiene products from the Dance for Dignity event held on February 1 at the Suncoast Credit Union Administration building in Tampa where participants in a two-hour Zumbathon were asked to donate products to participate.

The event coordinator, Joseisa Sanchez, created this event after learning how many women do not have access to these products

“I knew I wanted to collect donated products, but didn’t know what I was going to do with them until a friend told me about Project Lotus Restoring Dignity,” said Sanchez.

With over 50 people attending this event, Sanchez has plans to hold additional Dance for Dignity events.

“Aside from being able to collect hygiene products, this event also brought awareness to this cause and connecting people to Project Lotus helps them easily and frequently take action to donate and help homeless women during their monthly cycle,” said Sanchez.

Wilson encourages others to follow Sanchez’s example, “I’m only one person, but I’m going to make an impact.”

Although she has been collecting these products for a number of years, in 2019, she officially started Project Lotus Restoring Dignity as a nonprofit and began partnering with agencies that already work with homeless people. It continues to seek out individuals, organizations and churches who want to be a part of this initiative through their time, financial support and direct donations.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ProjectLotusRestoringDignity.