Rosa Parks Museum Celebrates 65th Anniversary of Montgomery Bus Boycott

Photos by Jill Friedman

On December 5, 1955, more than 40,000 Montgomery citizens began boycotting the city bus system, sparking a 382-day movement that led to a Supreme Court ruling that integrated public transportation and changed the course of history. On that date, 65 years later, the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University hosted "Memories from the Movement: A Child's Perspective."

 

Meta Ellis, the daughter of Rev. Robert Graetz, the only Caucasian minister to participate in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, spoke about her experiences as a child growing up in Montgomery during the boycott. Prior to Ellis' stirring presentation, the audience enjoyed watching a segment of "Architects of Change," a documentary produced by Breanna and Brooke Bennett, the founders of Women in Training, Inc.

 

Audience members also brought donations of menstrual and hygiene products for WIT to distribute to those in need.

 

Here is the trailer to Architects of Change

Photo by Travis Jackson

Women In Training Distributed 100 Turkeys in Partnership with Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 

City of Montgomery and Dexter Ave. Baptist Church

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Photos by Jill Friedman

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Women in Training, Inc. distributed 100 turkeys to families in need outside the former home of Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, November 21, 2020.

  

The turkey giveaway is the result of a partnership between Women In Training, Inc., and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where King served as pastor from 1954-1960; the Church of Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ; and the City of Montgomery.

 

“WIT not only provides menstrual and hygiene products to young people who menstruate, we also recognize that people in need require other forms of assistance, and that’s why we are giving away 100 turkeys before Thanksgiving,” said Dr. LaToya Clark, M.D., the president and chairwoman of Women In Training, Inc. “As we enter this holiday season, many people in our community are still suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and WIT is here to help.”

 

LDS Charities, through the Bishops’ storehouse in Tucker, Georgia, has donated turkeys valued at more than $1,300 for this special event. 

 

“We are pleased to partner with such a compassionate and service-oriented organization,” said Troy Stubbs, communications director, Montgomery Stake, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which operates LDS Charities. “Loving and serving one another as the Savior did will truly change a community for the better!”  

 

The city of Montgomery’s Parks and Recreation Department also contributed to this event.

 

Throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, WIT has continued its mission of alleviating period poverty, while observing the social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

WIT Hosts Health Education Program at TEARS Shelter

“I was honored to make this, ‘How to Prevent STDs’ presentation to the young ladies,” said Dr. LaToya Clark, Women in Training, Inc. President and Board Chairwoman. “They listened attentively and asked pertinent questions.”

 

On Friday, November 6, 2020, Dr. Clark, supported by Dr. Stephanie McCorvey, WIT Board Member, and Ms. Dorothea Ligon-Hawley, WIT volunteer, visited the Bridges TEARS Shelter for Runaway Girls in Tuskegee to conduct a health education program. Breanna and Brooke Bennett, the WIT co-founders, had a conflicting school obligation, but they sent gifts for the young women.

 

“Someone requested that we return monthly,” Dr. Clark said. “We certainly will continue making monthly donations to the young ladies of menstrual, hygiene, and COVID-19 PPE supplies.”

Women In Training Joins Mutual Aid Montgomery Event to Give Away Hygiene and School Supplies

Women In Training, Inc. (WIT) distributed 100 WITKITS® of menstrual, hygiene and dental products to underserved families at a distribution event organized by Mutual Aid Montgomery on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at The King’s Canvas, 1413 Oak Street in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

Mutual Aid Montgomery is a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services that allows community members to care for one another. It was first established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March 2020. The informal network enables community members to volunteer services like transportation, grocery pick-up and delivery, childcare, and other services to those in need.

 

“Mutual aid is the practice of community members helping other community members, and we believe that everyone has something to offer to this community, and everyone has something they need,” said Katie Wu, an organizer for Mutual Aid Montgomery who helped pack the WITKITS®. “We are thrilled for our first-ever distribution event and are excited to be doing this alongside Women In Training, who will be distributing menstrual and hygiene products along with our other free products to members of the community.”

 

WIT’s signature program is the WITKITS® Campaign to provide menstrual products and hygiene items to young, low-income people who menstruate.

 

“We, too, are excited about partnering with Mutual Aid Montgomery to distribute 100 WITKITS®, especially to girls who need them,” said Dr. LaToya Clark, M.D., the president and chairwoman of Women In Training, Inc. “One in 5 people who menstruate stay home from jobs, miss school or lose out on other opportunities because they don’t have the products they need, and that number has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away even more of their family income. This distribution event will help us in our efforts to eradicate period poverty.”

 

WITKITS® include menstrual pads, soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant, socks, a journal and a hand-made bracelet with a positive message. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, WITKITS® have also included personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and bottles of WIT hand sanitizer. 

 

Since its founding in July 2019, WIT has distributed more than 1,000 WITKITS® to teenagers at Tears Runaway Shelter for Girls in Tuskegee, Alabama; to homeless women at the Salvation Army Montgomery; to girls in need at Brantwood Children’s HomeThat’s My ChildNew Beginnings Educational Center; Common Ground Montgomery and to women at Aid to Inmate Mothers. WIT has also inspired state Rep. Rolanda Hollis to introduce a bill that would require schools across Alabama to provide free menstrual products for menstruating youth.

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Photos by Dr. LaKeisha Thomas and Breanna Bennett 

Rep. Rolanda Hollis Reintroduces Bill To Put Free Menstrual Products In Alabama Schools

Alabama State Rep. Rolanda Hollis reintroduce a bill in the state Legislature on November 30, 2020, that would require schools in the state to provide free period products to students in need.

 

Hollis introduced the new bill, HB-88, in the Legislature this week. It would require schools serving students in the fifth through twelfth grade to make free menstrual products available to students in every school nurse’s office. 

 

Hollis originally introduced the same bill in February as HB-237, but the COVID-19 pandemic ended the legislative session before the bill could come before lawmakers for a vote.

 

Hollis has brought the bill back in the new session. She was inspired by 13-year-old twins Breanna and Brooke Bennett, who co-founded Women In Training for their 12th birthday in July 2019. After learning that 20% of American girls and women cannot afford menstrual products, the twins decided to donate their birthday money that year to buy products for women in need. 

WIT 5K was a Success! Funds Raised will Start the WIT Youth Leadership Circle

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Photos by Jill Friedman

Thanks to the generosity of our friends and supporters, Breanna and Brooke Bennett, the Women in Training, Inc. co-founders, realized their vision of combining their love for running with their passion for raising funds to end period poverty!

Thanks to the support of Leadership Montgomery’s Torchbearers Class XII, WIT surpassed our goal of $5,000 by raising $6,683.31 to begin the WIT Youth Leadership Circle in January 2021. We will groom young people to develop the leadership skills necessary to end poverty! Period!

Leadership Montgomery & WIT Host Virtual 5K Race Kickoff;

Race Continues to October 31

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Photos by Jill Friedman

Women in Training, Inc. is collaborating with Leadership Montgomery’s Torchbearers Class XII in the WIT 5K Virtual Race to End Period Poverty, from Oct. 10 to Oct. 31, 2020.

 

The race kick off was on National Period Day, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare Garden, 1 Festival Drive in Montgomery, Alabama. The culminating award ceremony will take place on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at the same time and location.

 

Participants may walk or run the 5K at any location – including their home treadmill, their gym, through their neighborhoods, in a nearby park, around the block a few times or anywhere else they choose. Supporters may also simply donate money to the race to fight period poverty.

 

Women In Training, Inc. is organizing the WIT 5K Virtual Race in conjunction with Leadership Montgomery's Torchbearers Class XII, which is providing logistics and marketing support for the event. Leadership Montgomery is a diverse group of community leaders who embrace change, leverage diversity and address critical community issues. The program was designed to offer its participants leadership training and a safe environment to learn about the various aspects of the community and to voice openly and freely their perspectives and concerns with one another in hope to work together for a better community for all. Leadership Montgomery has assembled and graduated over 1,400 community leaders from the original program.

 

The WIT 5K Virtual Race was selected by Leadership Montgomery Torchbearers Class XII to directly impact our community and support the mission of WITKITS®. This collaboration is one of eleven community projects currently taking place in Montgomery.

Women in Training will host its first WIT Virtual Race to End Period Poverty

Women in Training will host its first WIT Virtual Race to End Period Poverty from October 10 to 31, 2020. Leadership Montgomery's Torchbearers Class XII is working in collaboration with WIT to provide logistics and marketing support for the WIT Virtual 5K Race.

 

The race kicks off on National Period Day, Saturday, October 10, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at Blount Cultural Park, 1 Festival Drive in Montgomery, AL. The culminating award ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 31, 2020, also from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at Blount Cultural Park.

The Leadership Montgomery Torchbearers Class X11 members working in collaboration with Women in Training on the WIT 5K Race to End Period Poverty are as follows:

 

Jada Davis, Team Leader

Kim Bell, EdTech Academy, LLC

Regina Coley, Leading Ladies of Legacy, Inc.

Captain David James, Montgomery Fire/Rescue

MaryKathryn Fletcher, Alabama Higher Education Partnership

Blake Sanders, Saint James Church

WIT Gives Away Menstrual, Hygiene & 

PPE Supplies at Salvation Army

Photo by Dorothea Ligon-Hawley

Photos by Jill Friedman

On September 3, 2020, a team of Women in Training volunteers distributed WITKITS for homeless women residing at the Salvation Army Montgomery.

 

“Period poverty – not having the menstrual products one needs in order to carry out normal life activities such as going to work or school – is hard enough when one has a stable place to lay one’s head, but it is especially difficult when a person does not know where their next meal is coming from or whether or not they will have a place to sleep comfortably and safely at night,” said Adeyela Bennett, vice president and CEO of Women In Training. “WIT is here to help people who menstruate – including those who are in need of shelter – with the products they need.” 

 

WITKITS® include menstrual pads, soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant, socks, a journal and a hand-made bracelet with a positive message. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, WITKITS® have also included personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and bottles of WIT hand sanitizer. Throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, WIT has continued its mission of alleviating period poverty, while observing the social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. 

 

WIT’s signature program is the WITKITS® Campaign to provide menstrual products and hygiene items to low-income people who menstruate. Last month, WIT distributed WITKITS® to teenagers at Tears Runaway Shelter for Girls in Tuskegee, Alabama. WIT has also given away menstrual and hygiene products to girls in need at Brantwood Children’s Home, a home for abused and neglected young people ages 10-20 years; That’s My Child, a nonprofit youth organization; New Beginnings Educational Center, an after-school program across the street from Paterson Court public housing complex; Common Ground Montgomery, a nonprofit, non-denominational Christian community organization that focuses on youth development and leadership; and Aid to Inmate Mothers, a nonprofit organization that provides services to Alabama’s incarcerated women and their children. Girls, women, and non-binary youth who receive WITKITS® at WIT distribution events continue to receive products every month.

Back to School Event

In partnership with Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, volunteers from Women in Training held a successful Back to School Backpack Pickup event on August 8, 2020, at the Dexter Avenue King Parsonage Museum. WIT volunteers handed out 100 WITKITS containing not only the usual menstrual and hygiene products, but also COVID-19 personal protective equipment, such as masks, plastic gloves, and bottles of WIT hand sanitizer. The WITKITS for this event also included school supplies, such as binders, pocket folders, and flash drives. Volunteers from the church also distributed 100 backpacks full of school supplies. The Back to School Backpack Pickup was a great success!

WIT Celebrates One Year as Congressman John Lewis  Transitions

July 17, 2020

Photos by Julius Shanks

In observance of the first anniversary of Women in Training, Inc. the WIT Youth Ambassadors visited historic Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the modern Civil Rights Movement. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, an icon of the Movement, died on July 17, 2020, exactly one year after the formation of WIT. 

 

Congressman Lewis'  body traveled heroically from Selma to Dexter Avenue in Montgomery by horse-drawn carriage. His body laid in state at the Alabama Capitol on Sunday, July 26, 2020. It is noteworthy that just 55 years ago, on "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, then 25-year-old Lewis led a nonviolent march for voting rights from Selma to Dexter Avenue in Montgomery. Lewis was beaten so badly by Alabama State Troopers that his head was cracked open and he thought he would die. Ultimately, Bloody Sunday led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

 

The WIT Youth Ambassadors also celebrated the 13th birthday of WIT founders, Breanna and Brooke Bennett.

WIT Ambassadors Distribute WITKITS in Low-Income Housing Projects

July 15, 2020

It was a joy for Women In Training Youth Ambassadors and volunteers to spend the day at Paterson Court public housing project with Joseph Jones of One Day One Power, and students from Alabama State University. The ASU students distributed brown lunch bags of home-made sandwiches and chips, and boxes of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Photo by Kelsey Babcock

WIT volunteers walked through the housing complex to hand-deliver #WITKITS filled with chlorine-free sanitary pads, unscented soap, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste, socks, journals, and hand-made personalized bracelets. We also gave out free copies of WIT’s “A Young Woman’s Guide to the Menstrual Cycle,” a health education pamphlet written by Dr. LaToya Clark, WIT Medical Advisor.

Juneteenth celebration 

June 19, 2020

Women in Training WIT Ambassadors at the Southern Poverty Law Center Juneteenth celebration on June 19, 2020, at the Civil Rights Memorial Center.

Justice for George Floyd Solidarity Protest

 Alabama Department of Archives and History

Montgomery, Alabama

June 6, 2020

What's next? That is the first statement 12-year-old Breanna Bennett made after she gave her speech at the Justice for George Floyd Solidarity Protest, held in Montgomery, Alabama, on June 6, 2020, at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.Breanna intuitively knew that the global movement for justice and peace did not end when the protest signs went down. Bree and her twin sister, Brooke, have decided to update their 30-minute film, Architects of Change Documentary, to include information about this new movement to put a stop to police brutality and systemic oppression. Please give generously to the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization they co-founded, Women In Training, to support the film update.

WIT goes to the State House to advocate for HB-237 

February 19, 2020

Women In Training - WIT founders Breanna and Brooke Bennett met with Rep. Rolanda Hollis and Rep. Tashina Morris in the State House on February 19, 2020, to advocate for HB-237, a bill inspired by WIT's work to provide menstrual products to youth who lack reliable resources for these monthly needed items. Rep. Hollis' bill will require schools to provide free menstrual products to any Alabama students in grades 5 through 12 who need them. Not often that 12-year-olds help to shape state policy, but for Brooke and Breanna (and their very proud family, WIT Board members, and friends) it's the logical next step in their work for health and wellness equity. Here's some photos of the momentous occasion. 

Photos by Jill Friedman

Common Ground of Montgomery
 #WITKITS® Giveaway

February 14, 2020

The Women in Training Valentines Day giveaway at Common Ground Montgomery of #WITKITS overflowing with menstrual, hygiene and dental products was a love-filled experience! Dr. LaToya Clark of Jackson Hospital chatted with the young ladies about menstrual health; they raised some “real” questions about the menstrual experience. Kelsey Babcock then led a fun exercise about our secret nicknames for the period. Brooke Bennett, the 12-year-old Women in Training co-founder, sweetly gave out the #WITKITS. A special treat was the beautiful bracelets that were hand-crafted by Professor Lee A. Farrow of Auburn University in Montgomery. The new #WITKIT bag was generously sponsored by Barbara Jean Gilbert Wells of Capell & Howard P.C. Attorneys At Law.

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Photos by Jill Friedman