By Cristi McKee | Photo courtesy of Kathy Gomer
The Silverliners, an international social and philanthropic organization for current and former flight attendants, has officially opened their Tallahassee Chapter, the Florida Capital Silverliners! The Florida Capital Silverliners nurture friendships among flight attendants past and present over social and charitable endeavors in Tallahassee, and each month, they meet and share stories about their time with their respective airlines and plan out charitable pursuits to support communities in Tallahassee and abroad.
The Florida Capital Silverliners support the Wolf Creek Adoption Center/Jefferson County Humane Society in Monticello, Florida, and Fact Child Outreach Ministry in Uganda, Africa. The Tally Wire had the opportunity to speak with Kathy Gomer, President of the Florida Capital Silverliners (who flew for Trans World Airlines), and Maureen Jolly (who flew for Eastern Airlines), Treasurer, about their charitable pursuits—in specific, their partnership with Fact Child Outreach Ministry and all it entails. “Kathy has a real love for Uganda, which has passed on to me and the rest of our Silverliners,” Jolly said. Thus, “We have made it our mission to support this mission and to help all women who need it.”
In many parts of Africa, there is a stigma associated with women’s menstruating. “If a female has a period, she is shamed, ridiculed, bullied, and she has no access to pads,” Gomer explains. Lack of information regarding this natural occurrence causes the stigma to continue. Misinformation, too, causes communities to believe that menstruating women are “unclean.” The stigma—and lack of proper supplies such as sanitary napkins—forces these women to use whatever they can find in place of them. Foam from discarded mattress and dirty cloths are among some of the makeshift sanitary napkins they use.
In partnership with Factchild Outreach Ministry, led by Paul Tenywa, Executive Director at Fact Child Outreach Ministry, the Florida Capital Silverliners help to deliver sanitary products to women in need in Uganda, educate the public about health and hygiene, and deliver necessary sanitation devices and products (such as hand washing stations) to their school in Jinja, Uganda.
This treatment of women is unknown to many. “I’m an RN and a well-traveled former flight attendant, and I didn’t know!” Gomer admitted. So, to aid in delivering correct information, and teach about proper menstrual management, this past year, the Florida Capital Silverliners began shipping sanitary napkins and other supplies to Fact Child Outreach Ministry in Jinja, Uganda.
Initially, the Florida Capital Silverliners committed to supporting the one school—and that was exactly what they did. They began their collection of sanitary napkins, and, ultimately, “We ended up with 8,000 pads!” said Gomer. “We cleared out every dollar store,” Jolly recalled. They shipped out 6 suitcases, packed full, to Jinja, but only a couple of them arrived at Fact Child Ministry Outreach. However, the need was high in Jinja, and the Silverliners refused to be discouraged. So, the group kept up supplying the school to alleviate the need.
Currently, the Florida Capital Silverliners are working on becoming an 501(c)(3). While waiting for this status to be granted, members are working hard to help out their friends.
Last month, Fact Child Outreach Ministry scheduled a meeting to educate attendees about cervical cancer. Ahead of time, 60 packages of sanitary napkins were requested, and, to be safe, the Florida Capital Silverliners donated funds to purchase 90 packages to be distributed at the meeting.
When it came time to distribute these packages, over 900 women gathered. The crowd, however, remained interested in learning. Soon, questions about menstrual management, and the possibility of being affected by sexually transmitted diseases, arose. The guest of honor was the RDC—the Residential District Commissioner—the presidential representative in the district. He hailed Fact Child Outreach Ministry for opening the eyes of the leaders of tomorrow, and thanked the Florida Capital Silverliners for their support.
Known as the “Mamas of Africa” as the community in question calls them, the Silverliners are “indeed blessed” and “honored to help” their friends in the Jinja community. Through this partnership between the Florida Capital Silverliners and Fact Child Outreach Ministry, Gomer says, “It can help transform not only current lives, but future lives.”
If you have any questions, are interested in donating, or would like to join the Florida Capital Silverliners, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the Florida Capital Silverliners Facebook group, here.