Why? Why this project? Why teach new sewists?
I believe projects like the Days for Girls Pittsburgh Chapter need to have a purpose or mission statement. This helps us to define why it is we do what we do. It allows for us to adapt as a group. If we all know what our mission is, we can make decisions that further that mission.
That first paragraph sounds nice, but it is here because of an epic fail. I was getting (let’s call it less-than-constructive criticism) about the “quality” of our volunteers. A particular volunteer didn’t understand why we were teaching people to sew instead of recruiting people who already could sew with great expertise. A bit of shop-talk: Days for Girls provides templates to check work that include a gold standard and an acceptable range. Of course, I agree that our goal is the gold standard, but I also think that there is an acceptable range for a reason… none of us are perfect. I was happy to rip out incorrect stitching and start over and she was getting frustrated by it. She was an excellent worker and her work was always at gold standard (or somehow seemed better than gold standard). We were butting heads. One afternoon in a headache induced stupor, I finally realized we didn’t have the same mission. Her mission was to make the most perfect pads any girl had ever seen. My mission was to help women by helping women to help women. Unfortunately, my thick skull didn’t allow the message through to my brain before some damage was already done. The platinum standard volunteer decided that she fit better with a different Days for Girls team. She still helps us out occasionally and I don’t ask her to teach new recruits. It’s a little tense but we manage to work together (and separately) better now. I am hoping that developing the rationale and making it accessible for our volunteers will help avoid cracking skulls in the future.
Below is the rationale I have provided my team and the church that sponsors us. It begins with the Days for Girls mission statement and I let a few members of my leadership team (and the senior pastor) read and edit it, so I can’t claim it as only my writing. I would like to especially thank Nita Moots-Kincaid, as well as, Carrie Powell, Constance Pearson, and John Porter.
Days for Girls Pittsburgh Chapter
Days for Girls International mission and vision:
We’re turning periods into pathways.
Days for Girls increases access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls. Together, we’re creating a world with dignity, health, and opportunity for all.
Our movement has reached more than one million girls — and counting! With your help, we can reach Every Girl. Everywhere. Period.
Days for Girls Pittsburgh Chapter additions to the mission and vision:
The Pittsburgh Chapter was established by the Presbyterian Women of Third Church as a mission project to help meet the needs of girls and women around the world and also offer us an opportunity to connect with our community, specifically the women at the Community Corrections Center and nearby college campuses. We hope that this time together empowers women and shatters the stigmas that separate young and old, prisoner and free. We will work together to create a world with dignity, health, and opportunity for all. To that end, we recognize that our chapter will have continued need of people who are willing to teach sewing skills to individuals from these groups who may be transient. We also must be aware that some individuals we invite in may not be able to learn sewing skills. Therefore, we need to be intentional about having meaningful non-sewing work at each of our meetings. Our intention is to make working on this project accessible to everyone. We will promise to share a meal at each sewing event in an effort to provide nutritious food to our volunteers and to build community around our common table.
Third Presbyterian Church financially supports the Pittsburgh Chapter of Days for Girls by designating church budget money for the Chapter’s use. In addition, Third Presbyterian will allocate the time of a paid staff person to help facilitate that Chapter’s work.
In addition to the church staff person, Days for Girls allows for a co-leader (or two). These leaders share responsibility for running the sewing events, up-dating the chapter Facebook page, and managing the finances (working with the Third Church business office). These leaders hold regular meetings of The Pittsburgh Chapter of Days for Girls and send periodic reports to the session of Third Church.