“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Ghandi
I came across the quote above on the email signature of Lenny Jacobs, a humble and gracious woman, who just happens to be the driving force behind the ‘Essentials for Women of Perth’ campaign. Lenny has unintentionally ignited the hearts and altruism of Perth through making a call for sanitary items, underwear for women and children, women’s necessities sanitary products and essential toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors and deodorant for homeless women and families to a mere 100 or so friends on facebook – the concept took off, with 12,000 people now on the event!
What drew me towards Lenny was a comment “I just feel like I am an ordinary person to be honest, I grew up in an ordinary life” – yet she really has encouraged the city of Perth to think about homelessness in a different way.
This shift in thinking about community needs resonates with the ethos of 100 Women, as we also aim to inspire everyday women to consider the way that they can contribute to our communities and societies, especially those that impact women.
So what has your connection been to homelessness?
I have had no connection whatsoever! One of my friends from a mother’s group works for RUAH, a community services organisation based in Perth. I said, I have some clothes for you – do you want to drop them around. So it all started with a 10 minute conversation … she mentioned that they really needed some sanitary products and new underwear for women.
I had never considered this and was horrified at the thought of not having sanitary products when I needed them each month. I thought I’d be able to inspire about 100 people to donate undies and sanitary products, I never imagined this!
What are your feelings about being a woman in Perth?
I guess I have always been fortunate, I grew up in a family that made ends meet and we all had tertiary educations and I have never been in contact with anyone that has been homeless. I just feel like I am an ordinary person to be honest, I grew up in an ordinary life!
What would you say about organising an event like this, and would you encourage others to do this?
I have no background in organising events and have been learning so much along the way! If someone was inspired to do something from this – then go for it. People are generally quite generous; they just do not know how to channel that generosity.
Do you envision you will be doing this again next year?
Potentially, an annual thing, but not something pinned in concrete, we chasing our tale at the moment!
Underwear donations are also a very important part of the campaign, however there is one rather prescriptive request, nice underwear only!
Various collection points have been established across the Perth Metropolitan area and similar initiatives are now being set up in regional areas of Western Australia. Donators are asked to ensure all items are new; toiletries unopened and need to be dropped off by November 30.