It doesn’t take long to recognize that Kim Kennedy is a doer. If there’s something to be done, especially on behalf of women, count on her to address it. She’s a military veteran, a member of the Church of God in Christ, and a force for good in her community. For Kennedy, this means encouraging women to help and support each other.
Kennedy’s journey toward advocating for women’s health started in a VA hospital. Admitted for a critical surgery, Kennedy’s encountered barriers to what should have been routine care. She also discovered that the hospital didn’t provide free menstrual hygiene products in bathrooms. In response, she began working to holistically support female veterans in West Michigan.
In 2013, Kennedy organized the first Women Veterans Resource Fair in West Michigan. The fair served a portion of the 50,324 female veterans living in Michigan. More importantly, the fair acknowledged the needs of female veterans, who often feel underrepresented upon returning from deployment. Each veteran who stopped-through got a gift bag containing beauty supplies, feminine hygiene products, and other items.Kennedy’s fair also quickly made a major impact around the country, and her story was picked-up by the VA hospital system’s magazine.
There are about 2.2 million women veterans nationwide, of an estimated 22.3 million total veterans, all of whom could benefit from networking events, and women-centered health care. When she saw the need, Kennedy helped create a place for female veterans to fit in.
We asked Kim what advice she has for other women looking to make a similar change in their communities. First, “Pick two or three things that are congruent with your values, and run with them.” Second, “Be able to bring-up difficult things.” “Women’s health isn’t that glamorous, it’s everyday,” Kennedy says. “That’s what makes it so important.”
Making feminine hygiene supplies free and available in public buildings is one of those everyday, hard things. Lucky for us, there are strong women like Kennedy who know that all women deserve individualized, female health care and holistic support. She is currently organizing a red carpet Christmas Bazaar at the Kentwood Parks & Recreation Center on Saturday December 3rd from 12PM-3PM. Feminine hygiene or toiletry items donated as an entry fee will be donated to the Healthcare for Homeless Vets, House of Blessings, and Be a Rose's Adopted Kenyan school Paul Mbiyu Primary School.
By Kai Koopman