The Nation’s First Menstrual Hub: The SPOT Period by Philadelphia’s own Lynette Medley
The Hub is just the latest community advocacy work led by Medley. She’s been providing menstrual products to the community for years through her organization, No More Secrets.
Lynette Medley has been working to intersect the conversations around sexuality, especially among underserved communities in Philadelphia for years. They’re communities that seldom have open and honest, crucial conversations surrounding uterine care, and also experience limited access to proper healthcare supplies like pads, tampons, and more.
On Feb. 20, Medley’s No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit, a comprehensive sexuality awareness organization, as she describes it, is opening the nation’s first menstrual hub, the SPOT Period, located in Germantown.
SPOT, representing Safety, Programming, Optimal, Transformation, will function as a safe space that provides acceptance, understanding, education, period care, menstrual hygiene resources and further aid for the community.
The SPOT Period will provide the vital resources many take for granted, like access to clean water and operable toilets for women and girls.
The Hub is just the latest community advocacy work led by Medley. She’s been providing menstrual products to the community for years through No More Secrets.
“As a sexual awareness organization, we’re doing a lot of work around bodily autonomy and consent, and really having these conversations with marginalized communities And one of the ideas that kept coming up was that they didn’t feel like they had autonomy or they had their bodies or their menstrual cycle because they had to engage in high-risk behaviors, you know, and use unhealthy methodologies to be able to deal with their menstrual cycle,” Medley told AL DÍA.
Six years ago, she created a feminine hygiene bank in her own office, and then a subsequent delivery service program for people living at home in poverty.
“It’s not done by most movements,” Medley said, reiterating that No More Secrets isn’t a period poverty movement or organization — or at least it wasn’t intended solely for that reason, but she came into the space because she witnessed the need.
They were doing 80-85 deliveries a week, but then COVID-19 hit, causing their numbers to soar. “We were doing between 250-275.” Medley said, adding “that’s what revealed the disparities — the haves and the have nots. It was a blatant awareness.”
In going out and having the conversations with people, going into their homes and communities, she soon realized that period poverty was the “epicenter” of what was going on, but there was also so much more.
There’s menstrual health, and uterine care and so many other aspects that aren’t generally expressed openly or discussed in Black or Brown communities. The norm is, it happens, and you deal with it. It doesn’t exist.
“Because we don’t articulate normal conversations around a [menstrual cycle] and most of our populations don’t have access to healthcare, then they also suffer in silence,” said Medley.
Her organization asks questions from, “How many pads are you using?” to “how often are you changing them?’”
Depending on the answer, they know whether something is wrong.
“So that’s where the Hub came from,” Medley said. “How can we create a safe place to have these conversations, to engulf them in a comprehensive approach to uterine care, menstrual health, and all of these — and have a toilet, and have a safe space for the donations, for the menstrual care, for the education, for the awareness, for the safety?”
It was organic. She didn’t set the intent to make the first menstrual hub in Philadelphia. The need presented itself and she answered.
Her hope is that the populations she currently serves find solace in the SPOT Hub — people who are in poverty, or suffering from economic difficulties, without the resources needed to live in basic dignity.
Medley said the intent is that these services work to prevent these vulnerable populations from becoming homeless.
The SPOT Period will also provide reentry support to women through a partnership with Golden Rod transportation.
“This service is key,” according to the Hub, as more than half of the population is impacted emotionally and physically by the incarceration of a family member.
The Hub also features a Breonna Taylor Safe Room.
“We are always feeling like we are not safe,” Medley said. “We can’t be vulnerable when we feel as though we are not protected and cared for. Breonna Taylor, she was at home, and she was killed. This happens so many times to Black and Brown women, and so this is so important to realize that this is safe. You’re coming to a safe non judgemental space, and we’re there for you to be able to get you what you need. And that’s why it's important to me.”
Diva Cares International has also offered a sponsorship for the Breonna Taylor room and will be supplying a monthly donation of 200 Diva Menstrual cups.
Period, The Menstrual Movement, will be donating co-branded “first period” kits that include products for one cycle, printed education materials, journals, and stickers all in a reusable bag.
All through the conversation, behind the smiles, and the anticipation for the first menstrual hub in the nation, there was an underlying sense that despite it all, menstrual health and uterine care awareness is still not where it should be.
Medley expressed her feelings that despite the strides in awareness the SPOT Hub will bring to Philadelphia and the nation, there’s an aspect that doesn’t make sense.
“I always tell people, I should not have to do this. To me, this makes no sense that I have to give out free menstrual products, or provide these products. They should be given. They should have access to this. So to me, I’m just giving them what they need to succeed and, plus just love and caring, and just a space to say, ‘Listen, I’m not judging you because you shouldn’t be here in the first place.’”
People can come as they are.
The SPOT Period is located at 4811 Germantown Avenue, Suite 101, Philadelphia, PA 19144. Interested parties may donate here.
Provided by The Spot Period:
To participate in The SPOT Period, community members must reserve a time. Upon arrival and ongoing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the team will take each person’s temperature and provide masks as needed. They will then provide them with resources that can be requested via an online form or do an assessment with them to assess what supplies and services are needed.
The SPOT Period will operate Monday 10am - 6pm, Wednesday 12pm - 8pm, Friday 10am -6pm and Saturday by appointment only. Initially, the hub will accept 8-10 appointments a day and evolve with the community through a process that best meets their needs. After-hours needs will be taken on a case-by-case basis, but it is strongly recommended to submit requests ahead of time via https://www.nomoresecretsmbs.org/.