Who We Are
Barbara Morgan, Founder and President
In late 2016 Barb was on the phone to her son who lives in another state. He had been through some tough times and was now living in HUD housing and using the SNAP program for food.
He complained that he didn’t have toilet paper. Barb suggested he use his Food Stamps. He then told her that the Food Stamp program would not allow purchases of non-food items – like paper products.
That phone call led Barb to contact several agencies in the Asheville/Hendersonville area to find out more about how social agencies helped the needy, specifically with feminine hygiene products. Barb then heard how homeless and low-income women and girls struggle. Trying to find products at the critical time of the month; struggling with bullying and their loss of dignity at school or work because they had no extra money for feminine products, nor a place to turn for help. This was the start of Project Dignity.
Barb gathered a few friends and asked for their help. These friends became our dedicated, creative, and very active Board for Project Dignity. One of the first challenges the new Board faced was the fact that Barb was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) since 2010, meaning she received chemo treatments, participated in clinical trials, and now receives regular transfusions and treatments. Barb has not let her medical challenges deter her mission to help these women and girls, instead she has a sense of urgency to keep Project Dignity moving forward.
Judy Derr, Vice President, Secretary
Judy moved to Asheville in 1994 and began a 24-year career as a paralegal for a prominent law practice in the area. Judy was asked to join the Project Dignity Board from its inception and has been committed to its mission. Judy hadn’t realized the problems low-income women and girls face trying to obtain feminine hygiene products. She found out that many women miss work and girls miss school during for lack of products during “that time of the month.” She wanted to help in any way she could. It’s been a gratifying and awakening experience.
Nancy Pellegrini, Treasurer
Originally from northern Wisconsin, Nancy moved to North Carolina in 1980 where she committed to spending “the rest of my days as a loyal Tar Heel” fan. As a young woman Nancy earned her private pilot’s license and spent several years as an air traffic controller. Her business career eventually turned to becoming a paralegal, but it also included creating and running a successful corporate travel program for a large Charlotte firm. Now in retirement, Nancy has devoted her time to birding, and to volunteering with several non-profits, including Project Dignity.
Debbie O’Malley, Vice-President, Operations Manager, and Henderson County Outreach Coordinator
Eight years ago Deb traded in her “Mouse Ears” and moved from Orlando to Hendersonville, having retired as Director of Religious Education in the Orlando Diocese. Active in her new parish, Deb was looking for something to make a difference in our community. Deb was invited to join the Board of Project Dignity and was immediately instrumental in developing the processes needed to meet the demands of providing feminine hygiene products to the women and girls in our area. Deb works to successfully sustain the logistics of our program, including inventory management, product delivery, and telling the Project Dignity story to everyone she meets.
Emily Peele, Vice President, Operations Manager, and Buncombe County Outreach Coordinator
Emily works part-time for Student Support Services at A-B Technical Community College, serving as a reader and note-taker for students with disabilities. She is a volunteer reader at Mountain Area Radio Reading Service for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, a warehouse volunteer and community Ambassador for MANNA FoodBank, and a Friend of the Blue Ridge Parkway, where she maintains two overlooks.
Project Dignity of WNC Inc. 501(c)3, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide feminine hygiene products to women and girls in Hendersonville and surrounding areas who might be homeless, low-income, or victims of domestic abuse.
Why we do what we do:
“For the millions of U.S. women living in poverty, it’s often tough enough to pull together the funds to pay the bills or buy groceries. Menstrual products aren’t covered by the WIC program or food stamps, so when money is tight, there isn’t always enough left over for a $7 box of tampons or pads. When that happens, women often resort to using rags, socks, or even plastic bags. It’s upsetting—and even shocking—that every woman in America doesn’t have access to these essentials.”