A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Was Named.
If you’re one of the roughly one in five Americans who has ever given a single dollar to charity, you’ve probably heard the term “volunteer” at least a few times.
Well, it turns out that many Americans’ participation in charity works has been more like a series of “voluntary” donations.
In the latest New York Times Magazine feature entitled “A Billion Dollar Idea,” writer Jonathon Chait describes how a volunteer “perpetrator,” he calls her, became “the face of America’s charitable tradition” — and her real contribution to the cause.
Chait, who describes himself as a libertarian liberal, describes how the “Period Dignity Officer” was “an idealist with a sense of righteous purpose and a willingness to risk her own safety and that of her volunteers over and over again in the hope of improving lives.”
The story is part satire, part history lesson, but the best parts, Chait writes, reveal how a “few good deeds and a very small budget can reshape a community and change a world.”
The “Period Dignity Officer” was born in California, raised in Maryland, and had been working for a volunteer group called AARP as a senior fellow at the Urban Institute before she began her work in the Women’s Center at the University of California at Berkeley.
The story begins when Chait visits the AARP office and meets the “Period Dignity Officer,” who was tasked with “finding new ways to improve the lives of old people” by bringing them “out of the grave” and into the world, according to the Times.
She was a woman in her 50s with “a sweet, freckled face,” who was “a few years older than I am” and “smoothly tanned in a way that made [me] feel good.”
“There was something