Today we’d like to introduce you to Madeleine Park.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Madeleine. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Together She Can is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit that strives to improve the quality of life for women experiencing homelessness by providing them with hygiene and beauty products to better their health, wellness, and allow them the opportunity to feel like themselves again.
In June of 2016, I (Founder & CEO) was cleaning and organizing my home when I noticed an abundance of extra toiletry and beauty supplies lying around. Feeling there was a better place for them, I created small parcels containing shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, lotion, tampons, sample perfume, and makeup. I then packaged them up with tissue paper and an encouraging note. I then solicited help from my friends and family and asked them to donate their extra toiletries. From there I was able to create over 100 small packages and gift them to homeless women and shelters in her community. Seeing the large need for such fundamental items led me to continue my efforts towards improving the lives of homeless women.
As a child, I was always very ambitious and aware of my surroundings. Since I was a young girl, I have been conscious of those who were in need and how I could help. My family was very good at giving back; my earliest memory of this was watching my mother trek over a rain track and under a bridge to give someone a tray of food during a family cook-out. I have always strived to model that behavior.
As a “grown-up” who works in the city, I found it difficult to walk by those in need on a daily basis. I am not able to afford to give money all the time and creating Together She Can has helped solve that problem. Now, I carry small hygiene gift bags with me wherever I go. They are easy to hand-out, needed products, and always well-received.
To date, Together She Can partners with the majority of the homeless shelters in the Boston area. The partnership includes a monthly drop-off of hygiene gift bags (anywhere from 25-200 depending on the need at each location), event/holiday hygiene gift bag drop-offs, and the organization of different Life Programs. These Life Programs include résumé building, guided meditation, interview training, and beauty classes. We have a group of volunteers that donate their time to helping Together She Can operate and grow!
Most recently we have partnered with Sephora to provide professional beauty classes (Classes for Confidence) at the local stores for homeless women free of charge.
Thanks to our donors and volunteers, we have been able to give out over 2,000 hygiene gift bags and provide an abundance of different life programs that have helped hundreds of women.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Owning and operating a nonprofit is a lot of fun, hard work. It is nice to see the direct impact of your efforts on a regular basis. When Together She Can was just starting out, I thought it would be a long, slow road to growth. Fortunately, we landed in a niche that was both underserviced and well-liked. We grew extremely quickly and had to overhaul our operations multiple times in order to keep up with the growth. For a short while, I had many, many donated toiletries taking up my entire kitchen!
Aside from our mission to help others, our low operations costs allow us to ask for in-kind donations rather than financial donations. People like this. We know that everyone is being asked to donate money on a regular basis; our goal is to re-direct that ask towards something that people have and DON’T need. We aim to take your excess supplies and re-distribute them where they can be of better use.
Aside from the operations, everything has run pretty smoothly! However, seeing our homeless communities struggle on a daily basis will always be a constant battle. It is not easy to see another human in dire need of basic necessities. Hopefully, over-time, we will be able to ease this burden and help to solve a greater problem, hygiene for the homeless.
Please tell us about Together She Can.
Together She Can, 501(c) 3, is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the quality of life for women experiencing homelessness by providing them with hygiene and beauty products to better their health, wellness, and allow them the opportunity to feel like themselves again.
We provide the female homeless communities, both on the streets and in the shelters, with hygiene gift bags on a monthly basis. We do partner with 1 male homeless shelter too!
Our gift bags are filled with donated toiletry items which typically include: shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, brush, perfume, feminine hygiene products, and beauty supplies.
We also help to organize Life Programs for the women in the shelters such as Sephora beauty classes, résumé building, guided meditation, interview training, and more!
I am most proud of the relationships we have built with partner companies, shelters, donors, and women in the community. Everyone has a story to share and no matter who they are or what their background is, it is amazing to see them come together in a positive and helpful way!
One of my most touching memories was when Together She Can partnered with Girl Scouts of America. Their third grade troop brought in donations and helped to make the hygiene gift bags. They were able to create over 100 bags in under an hour! Afterward, we were able to speak with the third grade girls about homelessness and how the event made them feel. Many of the girls spoke about how it made them happy and that they liked being able to help other women.
What sets us apart is our ability to take something that many people have and DON’T need and re-distribute it to someone who DOES. 100% of our in-kind and financial donations go directly towards our mission. We are able to accept toiletry donations from hotels, corporations, and individuals via pick-up, mail, and drop-off! Our easy accessibility has also helped our growth immensely.
Our short-term goal is to work with and supply all of the homeless shelters in Boston with hygiene gift bags on a monthly basis. We would like to be the “go-to” nonprofit for toiletry donations and requests. Our long-term goal is to expand across the nation!
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I would have come-up with the idea and started earlier! All laughs aside, I would have been better prepared for growth. We grew so quickly that we were constantly in “catch-up mode” during the first 6 months.
I would also say, I would have been more open about asking for help. Trying to do things myself slowed our processes down. People are willing and excited to help, you just need to ask (and follow-through!)
- We are currently accepting full-size and travel-size toiletry items (new and gently used)
- Run a donation drive! We will supply you with the materials and support needed.
- Address: 140 Boston Street, Salem MA 01970
- Website: www.togethershecan.org
- Phone: 207-266-2536
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @togethershecan
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/TogetherSheCan