The Shinnston News & Harrison County Journal has named Lisa Stafford as February’s Citizen of the Month, a program sponsored by Dorsey Funeral Home in Shinnston – locally owned & operated.
By TRINA RUNNER
News & Journal Staff Writer
It has been said that Oprah has the “golden touch”, somehow transforming ordinary ideas into life-altering results for those around the world. Bridgeport resident Lisa Stafford might agree on that point. After being inspired by an article she read in Oprah Magazine, Stafford put that inspiration into action and has, in fact, made a difference to women all across the globe.
The article featured a grass-roots organization that provides provisions for women in countries with limited access to feminine hygiene needs. With over 340 chapters around the world, Days for Girls assembles kits for young girls that include soap, washcloths, underwear and feminine hygiene products.
“We are saturated with advertising and products in America,” said Stafford, “but halfway across the world, there are women in cultures who are not even allowed to mention it.”
The ripple effect of the kits is almost immediately measurable. With proper education and protection, these young girls can stay in school without a gap in their instruction. Attendance rates in countries such as Uganda and Kenya have dropped to single digits, allowing the girls to help support themselves and their families.
Stafford’s team of five has assembled over 250 kits and sewn components for over 500 items to Guatemala, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Zambia, Haiti and Rwanda. In addition to educating the girls about personal and reproductive health and advocacy, the program also supports women-run businesses internationally. Days for Girls has distributed over 200,000 kits to females in 80 nations and six continents.
Service has always been a top priority for Stafford, who made her way to Harrison County by way of New Jersey, New York City, and Colorado. As a nurse first, then as a school psychologist, she has had many opportunities to see people in need, both physically and mentally. One thing she never considered was that something Americans take for granted would be such a taboo in some areas. Her faith and her initiative allowed her to put into action an organization that could remedy that need and feed her soul at the same time.
In addition to Days for Girls, Stafford has also been known as a school volunteer and church volunteer at Bridgeport United Methodist Church. She was a Girl Scout Leader and started and ran the Christmas Shop at Johnson Elementary School for several years while her children attended school there. For five years, she has also been involved with Treat for Troops, in which she makes and sends cookies and personal supplies to U.S. soldiers in war zones.
Stafford’s volunteer work and selfless devotion to others is inspiring and admirable. When faced with an opportunity to help, she demonstrates the importance of jumping in with both feet and not hesitating.
“The rewards of being involved in volunteering are overwhelming,” said Stafford. “I hope everyone is able to tap into ways to help those who are less fortunate and help spread the message of hope.”