Period Equity Partner
What is Project AIM Community’s mission and how did you get started?
A.I.M. stands for ‘Access to Incontinence and Menstrual products’. Our mission is to ensure dignified, barrier-free access to safe and effective incontinence and menstrual products to get them in to the hands of those who need them.
Founder of Project AIM Miel Bernstein first came up with the idea of fundraising for these kinds of items after speaking to a local ambassador for United Way. Shortly before Christmas 2020, she decided to go at it on her own, and with the help of her friends and acquaintances raised more than $1,000 worth of pads, tampons and period underwear. She had a couple of people inform her that they were at a point in their life where they couldn’t afford menstrual and/or incontinence products and that it was embarrassing. Hearing their stories drove Miel to start Project AIM. Those first donations were shared with Agassiz Harrison Community Services and Extra FARE, a new program in Chilliwack that provides people in need with diet-specific food baskets. Gender-neutral period underwear was given to a Chilliwack gender counselling group, and other products were shared with local women’s shelters.
What do you do to bring your mission to life?
We are in constant contact with those people and organizations in our community that have literal ‘boots on the ground’ in order to get our products to those who need them. In doing so we hope to break the stigma around access to menstrual and incontinence products and allow those persons who are in need to feel comfortable to reach out to us through multiple avenues.
To date, how many period products have you been able to provide toward achieving period equity in your community? How many periods does Project AIM Community support each month?
Though we do not actually keep track an estimated amount would be in the thousands for products we have gotten out in to our community. On average AIM supports anywhere from 25-30 periods per month.
What does period equity mean to you?
It goes back to our mission which is providing dignified, barrier-free access to these products. To us period equity means access without judgement to all individuals who menstruate
What do you think is the biggest barrier to Canada reaching period equity?
The biggest barrier to Canada reaching period equity is acknowledgement that this is a problem across our country. Since menstruation is not a topic we as a country speak freely about yet, there is still a stigma around it. As a result a lot of people prefer to ignore the issue at hand to stay in their comfort zone.
What accomplishment is Project AIM Community most proud of?
We are most proud when we receive feedback from our clients. I know this is not a specific event but it is really the reason that we keep doing what we do. Recently we received feedback and testimonials from clients and it really is the lifeblood behind AIM. I will share a client testimonial now:
‘Project AIM has helped me ease my financial stress, and has given me the ability to use the funds I would normally spend on menstrual products to purchase 2-3 additional healthy meals for my family. The products Project AIM sends out are of good quality and are useful products. By reducing the financial stress from purchasing feminine hygiene products, it has increased my self confidence by reducing stress and embarrassment from having to choose between a healthy meal and visual accidents’ – AIM Client
How important to Project AIM Community are partnerships with social enterprises like joni?
Community partnerships like the one we have with Joni are vital to the survival of an organization like ours. We are a grass roots organization run by two women who have businesses and families of their own. As a result we tend to run on financial fumes and the ability to have access to products at below cost from incredible organizations like Joni are what are keeping us going. Not only that, the support and influence social enterprises such as Joni have on us boost our confidence and drive us to continue to do what we do.
What can people do in their own communities to fight for period equity?
The most effective and easiest thing people can do is donate financially to local organizations that are focussed on period equity. Volunteering time is also incredibly helpful since most of the organizations (such as ours) have limited people able to help pack orders and organize the back end of the business itself.