NewsPinellas County


Huddle in The Harbor helps women and girls avoid 'period poverty'

Posted at 1:03 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 08:00:52-04

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — A growing non-profit based in Safety Harbor is providing women and girls across Pinellas County with what they need to be healthy and financially stable.

GET INVOLVED | Huddle in The Harbor

Most people have no idea that young girls are often missing school because they don't have access to or can't afford period products like tampons, pads, menstrual cups, and more. However, Huddle in The Harbor looks to change all of that.

The non-profit started in 2017, helping provide girls with period supplies. They donate directly to local pantries, but often set up tables at various outreach events and hand out supplies for free.

According to Denise Smolenski, Huddle in The Harbor's founder, at a recent event they saw an unprecedented demand as girls prepared to go back to school.

A display table is ready full of free period supplies from Huddle in The Harbor for young girls at an outreach event in Pinellas County.

"I could not believe how many girls needed those products," Smolenski said. "We went through about $400 worth of period products in a matter of two hours."

Volunteers say the most-needed product for young girls always seems to be pads. That is what is generally handed out in schools.

The non-profit also provides breast pumps, diapers, car seats, formula and more to mothers and babies.

"Period poverty is one thing," Smolenski said. "But if you can't afford to buy pads and tampons, you can't afford to buy diapers. You need car seats. You need baby formula. So we've really incorporated everything we can to empower young women."

While they started relatively small, Huddle in The Harbor has been able to expand over the past few years with the help of several Pinellas County businesses and private donors.

"We couldn't do this without our community partners," Smolenski said.

Huddle in The Harbor is also helping provide scholarships to high school and college students, as well as rental and utility assistance throughout the pandemic.