“Homeless women need bras.” Those four simple words changed my life.

Emily Goodstein

I never thought I’d be starting a global nonprofit—and definitely not because I needed a new bra!

As a mom of two, I’d gained weight with both of my pregnancies and never really lost it. So in 2014, a couple of close friends told me over a glass of wine, “You need to take more time to get healthy.” 

The message sunk in. I started making better food choices and running. Over the course of 10 months, I lost 35 pounds. I don’t care much about fashion, so I kept wearing my old clothes until the summer of 2015, when my husband told me one day, “You can’t go to a business meeting in that bra.”

Read more stories about innovative and inspirational women, check out our Wellness Warriors series

It didn’t fit me around the torso anymore, and I couldn’t tighten it. While buying new bras at a local store, I asked the clerk what I could do with all of my perfectly good used bras that no longer fit me. She looked at me and said, “Homeless women need bras.”

Those four simple words changed my life. I went home and called a shelter near my home in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Their response: “How soon can you bring them?”

RELATED: This Bra Is So Comfortable, It’s Sold Out 10 Times

I don’t normally post on Facebook, but I felt compelled to mention that I’d just learned of this overwhelming need. Did anyone else have old bras to give away? The shelter had mentioned that women and girls are also frequently in need of pads and tampons, so I asked for donations of those, too.

People shared, and reshared, my request, and it got crazy really fast, in a “lightning in a bottle” way. Within two days, my Facebook group, I Support the Girls, was born. A few months later, my husband made a website to keep up with the demand.

RELATED: This Insanely Comfortable Bra Has Over 2,600 Near-Perfect Reviews on Nordstrom

By that time, I’d made it to the shelter, and I had collected more than 1,000 bras and more than 7,100 pads and tampons. It didn’t make sense to stop there. Today, I Support the Girls has nearly 60 affiliates across the U.S., as well as around the world. We’ve donated around 5 million products, including mastectomy bras, prosthetics for women going through cancer treatment, binders for trans boys and men, menstrual underwear, and menstrual cups. We’ve donated to Chicago public schools and the Indiana Department of Corrections, and provided supplies during and after natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Dorian.

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Advertisement