Local woman uses past to inspire others, work towards menstrual equity

Shawn Nowlin |shawn.nowlin@ourvalley.org

Supporters of Pads for Poverty are committed to making a difference in the community.
Submitted photos

Lyndsey Mills is on a mission and it is one that is close to her heart. She is leading a movement called Pads for Poverty, a donation-based service providing feminine hygiene products for those in need. Since starting it in February, Mills has gathered dozens of the following items: tampons, panty liners, hypoallergenic baby wipes, antibacterial soaps and cosmetic bags among others.

Mills, a 2003 graduate of Salem High School, knows what it feels like to hit rock bottom. Some of her darkest moments include struggling with job consistency, drug addiction and losing custody of her children.

“Imagine having four kids, alone, no job, getting food stamps and three of your babies are in diapers. Do you buy diapers? Do you buy formula? Or do you buy your feminine hygiene products? Now imagine your WIC running out,” Mills said. “Women across the world are faced with this decision every single day. We didn’t ask for poverty, and it isn’t something that we can just stop.”


Items such as tampons and baby wipes are still being collected.

During this time period, Mills often had to choose between diapers for her children or feminine products for herself. Occasionally, she had to borrow incontinence supplies from her mother who was also on low-income.

Mills credits the United Way of the Roanoke Valley for helping turn her life around. With their help, she was able to provide a stable home for her children after regaining custody and sustain steady employment. Mills also credits her children – Ruby, 13, Breshai, 11, and ten-year-old twins Jordan Grace and Khymani – for providing the necessary motivation to reach her potential.

Lyndsey Mills’ four children – Ruby, Breshai, Jordan Grace and Khymani

Mills understands that it is okay to not have all of the answers. The most important piece of advice she says she can give people who need help is to not let pride get in the way.

“It is important for people to reach out because there are available resources. You should never compromise your health by using alternative objects like fabric, tissue or leaves because these items are harmful and can lead to infection and injury,” she said.

Successfully starting a movement isn’t easy, but with hard work and support from the community, Mills says that it can be done. Those interested in supporting are encouraged to email pads4poverty@gmail.com or visit Pads for Poverty on Facebook.

“My ultimate goal is to collect enough supplies this first round to put a P4P box in every middle and high school in the area as well as supply local charities with a box of goods,” Mills said. “Diversity is important to me. The trans-community is not excluded from Pads for Poverty because sometimes they face bigger challenges poverty couldn’t touch. We know this is a human issue just as much as it is a woman issue.”