Women’s hygiene is often viewed as a taboo topic. Talking about your period can get an awkward glance or two, and most don’t feel comfortable speaking up and asking questions for the same reason. But women’s health is an important discussion that deserves the spotlight. Deb Rivero and Laura Wahrhaftig are making that happen by creating Bloom, a new philanthropic organization at Penn State that focuses on women’s health and hygiene. Valley had the opportunity to chat with the founders of the organization to discuss what Bloom is and how it’s making a difference here on campus.
Bloom is best described as “Women helping women, internationally and locally,” says Laura, a junior Communication Sciences and Disorders major. From the local women’s domestic abuse shelter to international issues surrounding poverty and lack of hygiene for women, the organization covers a broad spectrum of issues that deserve a voice. On creating the organization, both women brainstormed ideas for a new campus group and found that they both shared an interest in helping women. Laura mentions the lack of conversation surrounding women’s health and the importance of eliminating the silence. “It’s a taboo topic to talk about your period and menstruation. I think it’s empowering to have a group of people who are not afraid to talk about it because it’s something that shouldn’t be so taboo,” says Laura. Deb, a junior Math Education major, adds that topics surrounding women have become more common. “It gave us the initiative to want to start doing something that’s not just talking about it.”
The purpose of Bloom is to fundraise for women’s organizations and create a safe space for people to discuss commonly overlooked topics. “We’re trying to do a big service day where a bunch of people can sign up and even do a basket drive where people can donate their items. We want to donate money to the organizations we’re helping, or make hygiene kits,” says Deb. Bloom is a team with Days for Girls, a national organization that works to empower women and emphasize the importance of sustainable feminine hygiene products. Bloom also has other important goals related to education and poverty. Bloom members will be able to attend events related to the organization. Deb also mentions working closely with the Centre County Women’s Resource Center through volunteering.
Both women emphasize having fun at their meetings and creating a welcoming space for all to join. “We want to make it fun and not something where people have to tip-toe around the idea of helping women,” says Deb. Bloom hopes to make close connections with others that share similar interests and have a passion for helping out and volunteering.
Organizations such as Bloom are working to change the conversation about women and aspects of their health. Get involved by heading to a Bloom meeting on Mondays at 6 p.m. in 103 Biobehavioral Health building.