As I began this year, as a new self-employed small business owner, I recognize that privilege has given me this opportunity. I am actively learning and will continue to educate myself on how I have benefited from this privilege to make and sell art today. As a self taught artist, trial, error, and mistakes were some of my experiences in opening my small business, which continues to enrich my life in ways others might not have the opportunity to experience. I have done this process as a white woman, and have been reflecting on my experience to understand the privilege that exists in my story and want to do better as an artist, community member, friend, activist, and citizen. I want to work to fight for the injustices of the Black community and I believe it best to start at home, here in Kansas City.
MackBecks began in 2017, alongside an organization seeking to end period poverty in Kansas City, Homeless Period Project. My work has always been rooted in creating inclusive and uplifting pieces to empower those who wear them while also impacting the community. I want to continue to do this work in the month of June by supporting a local Nonprofit, Giving Hope & Help.
In late 2018, I had the privilege to be invited to speak about Period Poverty in Kansas City on KCUR. Sitting in the waiting room, incredibly anxious and had never spoken on the radio, a woman walked into the room with excited and fearless energy and introduced herself to me. Jessica McClellan, the Founder/President of Giving Hope & Help, who would be on the segment as well. She began to tell me about her organization and I was blown away with their mission that extends far beyond Period Poverty:
"Giving Hope & Help is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports domestic violence survivors, provides essential resources to end period poverty, empowers college bound and non-traditional students and inspires cancer patients, lifting all those we serve to live their best life."
Her experience FAR surpassed mine, with years of advocacy, education, and fighting for injustices in our community, just to name a few. I was 24 at the time and had worked with Homeless Period Project for about a year, still new to this work and learning as I went. HOW was I selected to speak on the radio with a woman who has this impeccable background:
"Jessica is the Founder and President of Giving Hope & Help Inc., “Voice of the voiceless”, survivor and advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, philanthropist, humanitarian, radio talk show host and motivational speaker. She is a 2019 Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. – Women of Courage Award Recipient, 2018 Women of Distinction of Jackson County Honoree and a 2017 LIFT HER UP Honoree, all based on her philanthropic work and leadership with Giving Hope & Help Inc. She is a 1st generation graduate from Southern University and A&M College – Baton Rouge, LA, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Marketing. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Business Management (MSM) from Baker University – Baldwin City, KS. She is the 2014 Grand Prize Winner of the Be Your Possible Essay Contest sponsored by Barclaycard MasterCard. Jessica has over twenty years of sales and management experience including ten years of pharmaceutical and medical sales experience. She is an Independent Corporate Trainer/Facilitator; an active member of the Kansas City Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Central Exchange, Southern University And A&M College Alumni Federation and is an INROADS Kansas City Inc. Alumna."
I now sit here to believe that this is because of my privilege. Jessica could & SHOULD have been the only guest that day. I was not and still do not believe I am qualified or an expert in any of these areas, but I do believe that I was supposed to meet her and I am incredibly thankful, for that opportunity, a privilege.
We both sat with excitement and also confusion on how it had taken us this long to meet. The journey I had started with the Homeless Period Project had begun a year ago, a mission Jessica had been engaged in for years and had deep roots making change in our community. We entered the recording studio and began the segment on Central Standard called, “Period Equality.” I felt inspired to hear her speak about her real life experiences, advocacy, and leadership and couldn't wait to know this person more and work alongside them.
“Period Equality” full segment: https://www.kcur.org/show/central-standard/2018-10-18/seg-1-period-equality-seg-2-carol-anderson
Before I founded the KC Chapter of Homeless Period Project, I felt that I had done thorough research to find an organization I could support doing this specific work in our city, but struggled to find an organization working specifically on Period Poverty. Part of me wonders, even today as I write this, why I have to click through multiple google pages to find their website when searching "Period Poverty Kansas City" and articles relating to this topic with dates prior to 2017(in relation to searches in that time period.) This could be from a multitude of reasons of the conversation around Period Poverty and the stigmas that surround that topic, but has made me think about the other possibility of the under representation of an organization that so greatly has been impacting our community since 2013. I could be wrong, but I sit here and can't help to ask myself those questions.
Giving Hope & Help has been impacting our under-served community members through this work:
"Advocate for domestic violence awareness to encourage all to stand up, speak up and STOP domestic violence. Support DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS & the shelters in which live with year round collections and annual drives of sanitary napkins, tampons and new children and women’s packaged underwear. The feminine products also support natural disaster survivors and benefit those in need of feminine care across the globe. GH&H has shipped feminine care to Cambodia, Nairobi-Kenya, Haiti, Mexico and are currently supporting 131 girls in Limiru Kenya for one year with funding for feminine care and underwear for girls.
LOVE Bags 4 Cancer Donation & Delivery Events to uplift hospitalized MALE & FEMALE cancer patients in honor of Valentine’s Day & Mother’s Day. The LOVE Bags are hand delivered to the patients at their hospital bedside. A portion of the proceeds benefits the American Cancer Society-Kansas City. Over four hundred hospitalized cancer patients have been inspired and uplifted with the hand delivered LOVE Bags 4 Cancer since Feb. 2015.
Education Is Your Passport Program and Annual Scholarship to benefit low income, College bound high school seniors. To date GH&H has awarded 35 scholarships since the 2015 program launch. The program will expand in 2019 to award low income current year high school graduates and single parents full ride scholarships to the Metropolitan Community Colleges: Penn Valley and Maple Woods."
I have seen Giving Hope & Help work to collect over 100,000, yes 100,000 period products for our community to support domestic violence survivors. I have seen them work to bring college scholarships to under-served students and single parents, with this year offering 10 FULL RIDE scholarships to MCC-Penn Valley & Maple Woods. I have co-hosted events with them and they have made me feel like family at events I've volunteered. I am truly inspired by their work to create change to better the lives of those in our community. & I want the MackBecks community to join and be a part of their work with me.
For the month of June I will be donating a portion of our sales to benefit the programming of Giving Hope & Help. I believe they have been largely impacting the lives of our under-served youth, domestic violence survivors, cancer patients, those experiencing homelessness, and single parents in the Black community in Kansas City and beyond. I trust their work, dedication, and education which creates better lives for this community and I am honored to work alongside them to fight for the inequities of our city.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity, a privilege, to have met Jessica in the time that I have. She has vulnerably shared herself with this community and myself, I deeply appreciate her as a person, leader, activist, and friend.
Tune in today on KUAW-IPFM through FaceBook Live to hear her speak on a segment "White & Black Women Unite!"
Join Giving Hope & Help by learning more yourself in the link below. They are always looking for volunteers and ways to get involved if you don't have the means to donate at this time.