A typical day for an average young adult on Long Island involves waking up early, running out the door, and constantly working until the sun goes down. There are no breaks for Long Island’s young population, which leaves them little free time to relax and enjoy the summer.
But instead of relaxing at the beach or binging the latest TV show, Alexa Telano, 25, of North Bellmore, is dedicating her free time to making a difference in the community. Her day consists of waking up early, working hard, and sorting the bags of tampons and pads that are dropped off at her house any given day.
“I have always been involved in social justice and volunteering,” Telano said.
While a student at Mepham High School, Telano was actively involved in volunteer and advocacy work. As her career kicked-off, she searched for an organization that she could volunteer for, but would also fit with her busy schedule. “I knew eventually I wanted to keep helping people,” Telano said. In September of 2017, Telano found Dignity Matters, a non-profit organization that collects and supplies feminine hygiene products, bras, and underwear to homeless or in-need individuals.
“What intrigued me most,” she said, “is that the volunteer process was both so seamless and personal: you are able to run donation drives right out of your own home if you choose!”
Once joining, Telano became a heavily involved volunteer. “I started out by running a donation drive in September 2017,” Telano said. “From that time until the following September, I was able to collect approximately 2,833 product donations.”
In addition to her donation drive, Telano has also hosted volunteer lunch-ins at her alma-mater, Pratt Institute, and co-hosted wine and open mic nights. For her birthday in January, she was able to raise $2,200 via a Facebook fundraiser.
“Personally, nothing gives me greater joy than helping others,” Telano said. “I was raised with the privilege of having a safe and stable home, that when the time came, I never thought twice about being provided with bras, underwear, and feminine hygiene products. I want others to have that ease.”
Telano also hopes that her work with Dignity Matters is one more step towards gender equality with the homeless and in-need population. “Homeless women and school girls, both sheltered and unsheltered, every month face the humiliating reality of no access to tampons or pads,” Telano said. “Their dilemma of having to choose between buying food to survive or pads is too common.”
To Telano, Dignity Matters is “such a special organization because of their ability to visualize both [the] short term and long term goals for the greater global community,” Telano explained. “In the short term, they strive to provide free tampons, sanitary napkins and underwear to these women and girls who cannot afford or readily access them. The long term vision is a world where basic feminine hygiene products are available in public bathrooms, free of charge, just like toilet paper.”
As for her summer goals, Telano hopes to raise another $1,000 via her Facebook fundraiser, “Alexa’s Summer FUNdraiser for Dignity Matters.” She still accepts donations at her Bellmore home at 2693 Doris Avenue and will be co-hosting a charity yoga class with Moonflower Yoga on July 7th.
But even with her busy schedule, Telano is still looking for more opportunities. “I would love to collaborate with more people! It would be great if we had two households running a donation drive.”
For more information, please visit www.dignity-matters.org.