By: Dana Marlowe
“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
In the course of my work, I meet hundreds of people. Thousands of conversations, some important, some less so. In one ear, out the other. But I hear millions of words yearly; some resonate, others yelling, some answers to questions, a few pleasantries and compliments, the occasional protests by my children that bedtime isn’t for another hour. With all that we hear in any given day, how much of it do we really remember or even pay attention to?
Two years ago, I heard four words that under normal circumstances I may have discarded and quickly forgotten. Four words is trivial, but this quartet ended up changing my life because I listened:
“Homeless women need bras.”
The place of this conversation that was loudly pounding in my brain? A Soma fitting room. The reason I was there? I lost weight and was getting fitted for new bras. And while trying those new bras on, I knew I had gently used bras in my dresser drawer that thankfully no longer fit. I wondered aloud what I should do with them and that’s when the Soma associate shared that verbal lightbulb of an idea. I listened and decided to act. Loudly.
I Support the Girls, the organization which eventually was borne of those sales associate’s four words, is now a global movement. In under two years, 170,000 women have benefited from bras and menstrual products donated by thousands of people around the globe. We all hear things and think we should do more. I’m certainly guilty of that, but this time, I didn’t let a few words slip out the other ear. Instead they bore a deep hole in my brain, made me act, turned my life upside down (in a good way!) and together we’re making a change in the lives of those that many in society deem invisible.
I never thought 4 simple words spoken by a stranger in a dressing room would launch a global NGO, but when we open our ears and our hearts, great things can happen.
Until the end of July, we are partnering with the over 270+ Soma stores across the country. You can drop off new or gently used bras at your local Soma store and the collected products will be distributed to women affected by domestic violence. Additionally, on July 27th, all Soma stores will be hosting an event where you can drop off bras and receive a free fitting! Please join us as we work together to help women experiencing homelessness retain their dignity.