When Dana Marlowe started to lose weight back in 2015, the co-founder of Accessibility Partners suddenly found herself needing a whole new set of bras.
In her search for new undergarments, she asked a saleswoman during a bra fitting if she knew what she could do with her unused ones—after which she happened upon a philanthropic opportunity she wasn’t expecting.
To Dana’s surprise, the woman expressed that there was quite a huge need in their community and nationwide for undergarments at homeless shelters. It seems that when people consider donations, they tend to think first about clothing, food, and personal hygiene supplies, while often forgetting about the unseen garments like bras, underwear, and menstrual products.
“I had never, ever in my life thought about what it must be like to be homeless on your period,” said Marlowe, whose wheels then started turning about how she could help these women in need.
After a few closet searches and a convo with a friend, she quickly came up with a stack of 46 good-quality used bras ready for donation—but she wasn’t ready to stop there.
She went on to post a message on Facebook, asking her social media network of friends and family to join in her cause.
“That’s where things spiraled out of control,” says Marlowe.
Her personal mission to simply put her old bras to good use rapidly exploded into a global movement, as donations started to flood in faster than she could handle them.
That’s when Marlowe got the idea to launch “I Support the Girls,” a nonprofit dedicated to donating feminine hygiene products and bras to women in need all across the globe.
Now known as the “Bra Fairy,” Marlowe will never forget the reaction of one particular woman from a homeless shelter who put on a bra for the first time in decades with the help of I Support the Girls.
“She said, ‘Maybe if you make someone feel as though they are worth something, maybe they can feel as though they are worth something themselves,” Marlowe recalls.
She’s now donated over 350,000 bras to homeless women across the world.
“Having social justice, even in this very small way is very important,” says the Washington D.C. mother of two. “So if this brings somebody a little bit of happiness, that’s enough for me.”