Hey, Cool Mom! with Ashley Novoa
Mom, I'm so excited for you to meet Ashley Novoa in this week's Hey, Cool Mom! In December, she started Chicago Period Project, an organization founded on an idea that's super simple but super smart. When I heard about it, I had to know more. Here's what I learned:
More than half of the one million people living in poverty in Chicago are women*. These women are constantly making choices about how to use what scarce resources they have to get by. It's hard to imagine having to choose between a meal and a trip to CVS, but it's a reality for many. This means that they are often unable to purchase things like tampons, pads, and clean underwear. Check this out:
Enter, CPP: "The Chicago Period Project... seeks to empower these people by providing the menstrual hygiene products that will allow them to experience their periods with dignity.
OMG! It's so obvious but I had never ONCE given it a thought! Genius.
Ashley was motivated to do something for her community after the November election. In the months that followed, she partnered with dozens of local organizations to raise awareness and deliver "period kits" (supplies for one cycle plus some chocolate) and other bulk menstruation stuff to thousands of women in Chicago (and Houston, post-hurricane, too!).
Somehow, she's done so much in so little time. She must be amazing. Don't you want to know all about her?! OK, me too.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a 30 year old mother to a very full of life 3 year old named Jack. Since my son just started preschool, I’m in a special time of my life where I’m finding myself again and actually feel like a normal member of society instead of a zombie mom. I’m taking advantage of this new life chapter by focusing on my health and fitness and putting all of my extra love in my organization, Chicago Period Project.
2. Describe your family.
My family, I just love them so much! My little family means everything to me.. It’s myself, my husband John who I’ve been married to for 4 years and my little guy Jack. We also live with my brother-in-law who goes by "Uncle Andy" and our deaf dog Brella. Andy and Brella play such an important role in our everyday life.
Everyone in my house is so different yet we all really balance each other out. I like to think of myself as the realistic, level headed, reserved one. My husband couldn’t be anymore different! He’s loud, spontaneous, the friendliest person you’ll ever meet and seriously(!!!!) the funniest person on the planet. Jack, other than being a normal 3 year old that’s insane, already has the biggest personality. He really has me in awe everyday by how pure, friendly, talkative and brave he is. I think Jack’s is more like his father, or "Papi," as we call him, because he is hilarious and has this special spark to him. My family really challenges me to be a friendlier and more “go with the flow” type of person. I’m so thankful to have some amazing people in my house that bring out the best in me.
3. What do you do most days?
I’m a stay at home mom for the most part. I spend my weekdays doing school drop offs/pick ups, running errands, cleaning, cooking, keeping my little person alive. In between all the chaos I try to take a second to do something for myself, whether its a good workout or taking a nap, and do some work for Chicago Period Project.
4. Who/What is inspiring you these days?
Good question! Right now I have a lot inspiring me. I’m fortunate enough to have some bad ass women as friends so of course they inspire me everyday! The people that I meet through CPP give me life because although they might be down on their luck, they still wake up everyday and keep fighting!
5. What inspired you to start CPP?
I started Chicago Period Project right after the election. I knew that I needed to channel a lot of my emotions and concerns into something positive. Being born and raised in Pilsen, one of the low income neighborhoods of Chicago, I wanted to help people in underserved communities and I felt that now more than ever, women of all backgrounds needed to feel supported and shown some extra love. Around the same time, I came across an article on Bustle (read it here) that showed how homeless women coped with their periods each month. This article really stuck with me and pushed me in the direction of helping those that needed menstrual supplies. Within weeks of the election and with lots of help from some amazing women, Chicago Period Project was born.
6. What books are you reading or wanting to read? Why?
This is hilarious because I don’t get a chance to read that much so I’m going to go ahead and say I’d love to read any book.
7. What’s your favorite song for 1) a dance party 2) feeling sad
1) For dance party, Robyn never fails me.
2) I’m that weird person that sad music makes them feel better. Singing my heart out like no one’s watching is really therapeutic to me. For sad music, I love my girl Adele!
8. What artists or designers do you like?
I’m not the cool mom that’s into art and design enough to keep up with it, but I appreciate an amazingly creative mind.
9. What trip are you planning?
I want to plan a quick romantic weekend trip. Since I’m probably the only person that’s never been to New York, I’m thinking there. I’d love one weekend to just walk around, shop, SLEEP IN!! and eat lots of good food.
10. What clothes are making you feel good?
I’m a basic/minimalist kinda girl. If you look in my closet you’ll see nothing but black, white, gray, a few stripes and denim. I just purchased a pair of black Gap legging style jeans and they are the best..so comfy, high waisted and the perfect fit! Last year I thrifted a leopard fur that I didn’t get a chance to wear so I’m so excited to wear it this winter. My vintage Calvin Klein mom jeans are probably my favorite piece in my drawer. I always feel great in a good tshirt whether its a basic white tee or vintage graphic tee. I’m all about a minimal style outfit with something to give it a pop sometimes it’s an accessory, a good pair of sneakers or a cute jacket.
11. Finally, how can we get involved with CPP???!!!!
The CPP website has ALL the info about ways to donate and volunteer with this awesome organization.
Completing a sign up form here.
Do it! If anything, you'll maybe get to peep Ashley stylin' up that leopard fur this winter. I know I gotta see that!
*also, many trans-men