“Does anyone at the hotel have any hair gel?” – Paraphrase of a tweet that made me laugh from Becky Isserman (@mosslover) while at a SharePoint conference. Who hasn’t experienced being far from home and forgetting a basic item you needed to feel clean and refreshed?
While this is an example of a minor personal grooming emergency, that feeling is universal. As my sister would say, “There are very few situations that a hot shower and a cold beverage can’t improve.” (Wise woman, that one!)
Of course, this blog post is about folks with situations a bit more dire than forgetful packing.
Among the many jobs I’ve had as a state employee, I’ve worked in the Victim Services division of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council. It was there that I learned of an initiative to help shelters provide basic grooming supplies for people displaced from their homes because of domestic violence. Often, these clients arrive with little but the clothes on their backs and their children under their arms. It’s difficult to imagine the psychological abuse that goes into making a person think there is no other option but a violent relationship, or the pressure of knowing a victim is at the greatest risk of being killed when she attempts to leave. Small things, like clean clothes, personal care items, and a safe place to sleep, go a long way toward starting to counteract that damage and make a victim feel human again.
So what’s the initiative?
You know those little bottles of shampoo, lotion, and other personal grooming items hotels provide? The ones that, 9 times out of 10, you don’t use because you brought your own? Could you help a sista out by packing those into your suitcase for donation to a domestic violence shelter? These toiletries are the perfect size for people in temporary transitional housing, and you’ve already paid for them with your hotel bill.
What can I do?
If you’re going to see me at a SharePoint gathering in the next couple of months, you can save up your hotel toiletries and deliver the goods to me (in a plain brown package with no markings…just kidding!) and I’ll provide them to my local domestic violence coalition. Or, you can get contact information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at http://www.ncadv.org/resources/StateCoalitionList.php/ for a coalition office near you for use in local shelters. For security reasons, the addresses of shelters are not publicized, so the items can be dropped at the coalition office.
While you’re at it, if you happen to have some defunct cell phones in your closet of drawer, throw those in, along with the chargers. These phones can be reprogrammed so they only make 911 calls, even without a service carrier, and can be an emergency lifeline when an abuser refuses access to phones within the home during a violent episode.
My next speaking gig is SharePoint Saturday the Conference in DC. So if any of my SharePoint friends have supplies to drop off, find me! I appreciate any help you can give.
–UPDATED– The Federal SharePoint User Group (@FEDSPUG on Twitter) and Women in SharePoint DC (@WSPDC) have offered to collect the donations at their booth at SharePoint Saturday the Conference DC. Having a central location will make it easier for folks to bring in their items. My thanks to Marie-Michelle Strah, Mack Sigma, and Rima Reyes for their help on this.