Shelly Malis: Dignity Grows


Shelly Malis is leading Associated Women’s newest effort, Dignity Grows, a national initiative that removes the obstacles to self-esteem and health by providing women with personal hygiene products each month.  

Why did we want to get involved? 

I remember when The Associated’s Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF) watched a powerful documentary, Period. End of Sentence. It focused on the fact that women who have no access to feminine hygiene product can’t work full-time and have difficulty going to school. We realized that this is not just a problem in other countries… it’s a real problem in many communities in the United States. Government benefits such as SNAP and WIC do not cover these necessities and they are rarely donated to food pantries for distribution. In some states, feminine hygiene products are taxed. Because of the cost, many women are choosing between feeding their family or purchasing these products. We realized we can make a difference in someone’s life for not a lot of money. 

How does it work? 

Each month, women receive a Dignity Grows tote bag, filled with a month’s supply of feminine hygiene products, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste and more. These bags cost $10. My husband, Ira, and I paid for the first group of bags, and we are having a packing party with Chapter Two alumni in early November. Ultimately, we hope to expand this program – hosting packing parties through synagogue sisterhoods, bat mitzvah projects and Jewish Volunteer Connection’s (JVC) VolunTeams.

For example, Laurie Rosen, who heads a VolunTeam for moms with kids under 10, has over 600 members. She is anxious to set up packing parties for her group outside her house. 

Who will receive the bags? 

JVC is identifying partners from their extensive network who may have needs. Jewish Community Services, CHANA and Shalom Tikvah are taking some of these bags for their clients. And we’ve spoken with Asylee Women Enterprise, a JWGF grantee. They work with asylum seekers and survivors of torture; they would love to have 200 bags a month. Even if we can supply some of those, it would help. 

Anything else? 

We are thrilled to have the support of The Associated and Associated Women who recognize how important it is to improve women’s self-esteem and health. 


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