Jan Wilberg is the founder of the Time of the Month Club and a community activist related to homelessness, social justice, and older adult services. She advocates for women’s issues, policies, homelessness, and resources for older adults. Her blog is Red’s Wrap and has published essays in the New York Times and Newsweek.
Madison Sveum: What was life like growing up?
Jan Wilberg: Growing up, my father owned a store and I have a strong work ethic because of this. That came in handy with Time of the Month Club - if I have an idea, I pretty much just act on it. I don't wait for permission from other people or for other people to tell me it's a good idea. I just go with it. Sometimes I make a mistake but I'd rather make a mistake than do nothing.
M: For those who don't know, what is Time of the Month Club?
JW: Time of the Month Club is an incorporated 501 c 3 nonprofit organization that collects period supplies for women who are homeless. We help people organize donation drives at their school, college, work, church, club, wherever. We also take cash donations and use that money to buy supplies at the lowest possible prices. We advocate on issues related to homelessness and try to do education along with collective drives.
M: Where did the inspiration for Time of the Month Club come from?
JW: One day I was in a local shelter at the front desk. The receptionist looked really upset, she was shaking her head. So I asked her what was going on. She said, "It really bothers me when a woman comes in needing a tampon and I don't have any." That was the start of Time of the Month Club. I figured - why not collect period supplies? So I did. And happily, lots of people joined me in the effort. This isn't a one-person effort by any means. Period supplies are a huge need for homeless women. Supplies are expensive especially if a woman has children to take care of. And not having supplies can result in embarrassment, damage to clothing, lost job opportunities, and can even by a health issue. It's really important that women have decent supplies.
M: What does TMC do out in the community?
JW: We raise donations and we raise consciousness. Most people have never thought about the problem of period supplies for homeless women. Time of the Month Club helps them see homeless women in a whole new light , that they really are women just like them, who are in a very difficult situation.
M: What effect has TMC had on donor and people’s lives?
JW: We have gotten terrific feedback from women who have received TMC supplies. So grateful and appreciative. AND we get amazing feedback from donors who tell us that they had never thought about this need before and that doing a TMC collection has changed their perspective on homelessness.