As a volunteer-based non-profit, Shepherd’s Table brings together individuals who are dedicated to make an impact and give back to the community. And many times, these individuals are from our younger generation. Maya Grebowsky is only a Junior at Holton-Arms School, Bethesda, right now but she is already working on finding ways to help and create change in the world. Earlier this year, Maya started a small community project called “Giving to Silver Spring,” in which she collected donations of women’s hygiene products and toiletries in her neighborhood and delivered them to our Resource Center. So far, Maya has delivered 270 items to Shepherd’s Table.
The project started as an after-school club’s assignment for joining the LearnServe program, where Maya and other teens were encouraged to discuss social issues that they felt passionate about, along with finding possible solutions for them. For Maya, she wanted her project to focus on women’s inequality and poverty. Upon her extensive research, Maya learned that women make up 56% of the population living in poverty in the United States. For women living in poverty, one of the many issues that they have to face is limited access to hygiene products and toiletries. “It’s so unfortunate that hygiene products and toiletries like tampons, pads and menstrual cups, are not considered necessities. But they are often very costly. The cost adds up a lot and becomes a financial burden for women who are already struggling to find food and shelter every day,” Maya shared.
As someone who has always had a strong interest in politics and social justice, Maya wanted to do something to help girls and women in less fortunate positions. “For a woman living in poverty, she doesn’t only have to worry about finding food, shelter, employment but also has to think about how to afford all these hygiene products. It’s really sad that these women constantly have to make the choice between getting food or getting hygiene products, and most of the time, they would have to choose food. I want to help more women not having to make that type of decision,” Maya said, adding to the motivation behind her project.
As a Silver Spring native, Maya already knew about Shepherd’s Table from her parents, who made several donations to our programs in the past. When she learned that our Resource Center is one of the few local places that provide free access to these hygiene products and toiletries, Maya decided to choose Shepherd’s Table as the designated non-profit organization to receive donations. As part of her project, she started a social media campaign that asked the local community to come together and donate women’s hygiene products and toiletries. The campaign quickly received a lot of attention and help. “So far, I have done two donation collections. Because of COVID-19, my mom and I set up a donation spot at a local park near our house. People can drop off the donations without having to make any contacts. I received about 20 bags of different items each time, from toothpastes, toothbrushes, tampons, pads, shampoo, conditioners, deodorants, even socks. Our car’s trunk got filled up quickly!” After they received the donation, Maya and her mom would drop them off at our building.
Maya and her project “Giving to Silver Spring” recently received a grant from LearnServe, which inspired Maya to start thinking about further expanding her project. One of her current ideas was writing encouraging letters and creating postcards with inspirational quotes to share with women experiencing homelessness and poverty, while still collecting donations of hygiene products and toiletries. Maya credited her mentors at LearnServe and her mom for their continuous support throughout the project.