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South Salt Lake Journal

Over 300 refugee mothers celebrated at drive-thru event

May 30, 2022 05:43PM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

The Utah Refugee Connection and The Granite Family Engagement Centers sponsored a Refugee Mother’s Day drive-thru celebration May 7 at the Olene Walker Family Engagement Center (3751 S. 900 West).

“We had over 300 mothers come through,” Amy Dott Harmer, Utah Refugee Connection executive director, said.

While most families drove through, other walked through pulling wagons. Mothers received a variety of gifts.

Period underwear

“Period poverty is a real thing,” said Bronwyn Newport, a fashion designer and social advocate.

Newport explained that because of a lack of menstrual supplies, women often stay home from work and adolescent girls stay home from school.

Another issue is that in some cultures, using tampons is not acceptable.

It is estimated that nonprofits could spend $30 a month per recipient. Providing reusable period underwear reduces this expense.

Newport gave a $10,000 donation to the Utah Refugee Connection to buy period reusable underwear from The garments can be either hand washed or machine washed. They should last 18 months to three years.

Mothers and adolescent girls received three pairs. The period underwear came with a simple diagram explaining how to use the product.

These products are available at the Granite School District share house or by contacting the Utah Refugee Connection.

As a side note, Newport was one of the leading advocates who spearheaded the effort to get HB162 passed. This new law puts tampons, pads, and other period products in female and unisex bathrooms in Utah elementary, middle and high schools. All products are free and are available starting July 1. The effort is possible through donations from the Larry H. Miller and Gail Miller Family Foundation and the Andrus Family Foundation. School districts will pick up the cost starting in July 2025.

Cookies and water

Thanks to a donation from Sweet Tooth Fairy, each mother and others were given a wrapped cookie and a bottle of water.

Pampering products

The Utah Refugee Connection gave away yellow “You Belong Here” bags filled with pampering products such as bath salts, hand creams, perfume and a nail kit.

Live plants

The Ken Garff Automotive Group gave away live plants to the mothers. The effort was part of their “We are Hear for You” community outreach initiative. Members of the Garff family and corporate employees handed out the plants. The Ken Garff group paid for the seeds and worked with students at Roots Charter High School to grow them.

Roots Charter High School is Utah’s first farm-based charter high school located at 2250 S. 1300 West in West Valley City. The school’s philosophy, according to their website, is “A farm demonstrates the most basic relationship humans have to the land. Students experience the cycles of nature and discover the rewards of hard work and collaboration. They care for plants and animals that, in turn, provide their nourishment. They are involved in matters of life, birth and death. They are responsible for the well-being of fellow creatures and develop motivation and responsibility through this relationship.”

“The magic of our initiatives is that they are employee selected,” said John Garff, president of Ken Garff Automotive Group. “These events are near and dear to our employee’s hearts.”

Speaking of her late husband, Ken, Kathi Garff said, “He always listened to his employees. He wanted the involvement of employees. He wanted to provide support in their neighborhoods.”


Granite School District distributed information about their preschool program to mothers. The preschool program is free, but children need to be registered now. To register or ask questions, call Madeleine at 916-247-8774 or visit