SALISBURY, N.C. – Sophia Pimentel knows it’s a subject that most people don’t talk about much, but “period poverty” was very real to her as a teen, and she knew it affected other girls, too.
Women lacking access to feminine hygiene products is a topic that has sparked conversations across the nation and world in recent years. For Pimentel, it was an issue that hit close to home as she attended the Cabarrus Early College High School through Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
“As a teenager, I had a very loving and supportive household, but my father was not really a part of discussions around me growing up as a young woman. Once they got divorced and I was with my father half of the time, I found one household that was very open and I had everything I needed, and another where we didn’t talk about it at all and I didn’t have any feminine products,” Pimentel said.
As a student at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Pimentel has been impressed by the services that the College’s Wellness and Student Life teams provide for students who are struggling, no matter what the need.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the challenges many students face, from access to laptops and internet technology to basic needs such as housing, transportation, food, and everyday toiletries.
The Rowan-Cabarrus Student Wellness Center not only offers free counseling and a food pantry, but also free access to everyday items such as toilet tissue, soap, or feminine products. Rowan-Cabarrus also is providing free feminine hygiene products in its women’s restrooms on campus. The College conducted a feminine hygiene product drive in October but also accepts donations of these items throughout the year, along with contributions to its food and toiletry pantries.
“Our job is to assist students across the board with any need we can,” said Rowan-Cabarrus Director of Wellness Services Misty Moler. “Ultimately, we are here to help them achieve their career and academic goals.”
Pimentel is excited about the College’s commitment to the needs of students, since she knows firsthand the difference it can make.
“It’s not unusual to be able to get deodorant, but many support centers don’t even think about feminine products, even though this is something women deal with for the majority of their lives,” she said. “I am glad to see the conversation turn into action at Rowan-Cabarrus. It will help many students.”
In addition to the support available through its Student Wellness Center, Rowan-Cabarrus has a special COVID-19 assistance form available online, where students can reach out to the College with any need they have.
“Our students are working hard to navigate forward and improve their lives through the power of learning, and we want to serve them in any way that contributes to their growth and success,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “We do more than just provide course instruction. We walk beside them on their journey.”