A Reflection from Alexandra Jang-Chin: Guest Blogger

When I was younger, I would see people experiencing homelessness and be told to “look away” or “If they really wanted to do something about it they would get a job.” Today, as a young adult, I still hear the exact same words. Our society has instilled the idea that a person's appearance defines who they are as a person. I am guilty of at times being ignorant of the homeless population. However, when I moved to San Francisco I experienced a different point of view.

In my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to write a paper to advocate for something that I was passionate about. I found it difficult to come up with a topic, but after much discussion with my professor, I was introduced to the concept of offering free feminine hygiene products. Through my research, I was able to learn a lot about menstrual hygiene products as a necessity not only for women’s health, but also for their piece of mind. I also learned that a big reason why hygiene products should be free is because it allows women to be able to care for one of their basic needs. I found this argument to be so powerful. I had never in my life had thought about the fact that homeless women have to worry about periods too. I was able to recognize that women experiencing homelessness are just like I am: we have the same bodily functions. The difference is that they cannot afford the luxury to buy a product, which should not even be considered a luxury because it is essential to one’s physical and mental health. This paper introduced me to a newfound passion of mine, to support others who are in need of the basic qualities to live.

My passion grew after meeting Meghan Freebeck, the founder of Simply the Basics. In my second year of college, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Meghan and Simply the Basics to organize a hygiene drive. My team and I worked to collect everyday products such as: toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, hair brushes, and many other basic hygiene items that people probably couldn’t imagine going without on a daily basis. Through this hygiene drive I was able to put myself, yet again, in a perspective I had never thought of. What if didn’t have access to basic hygiene? I wouldn’t be able to brush my teeth, change my clothes, or even take a shower. Without these daily routines, would I have the courage to attend school every day and succeed with dignity? Would people accept me? Would I have the confidence to go to a job interview? Not having access to the basics denies dignity, health, and wellness. These are all components necessary for a person to be able to carry out their everyday task. That is why it is so important to support programs like Simply the Basics that serve the homeless community. Through working with Simply the Basics, I am taking the initiative to support those who don’t have support when they need it the most.

Presently, I am collaborating with 3 teammates and Meghan to raise awareness. We aim to galvanize a community to help in carrying out Simply the Basics' mission to help people meet their most basic needs with dignity. We want to aid people in need so that they can progress with greater goals.