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RRFP’s Bowl-A-Thon Makes Fundraising for Reproductive Rights Fun & Inclusive

Bowl-A-Thon participant Taneasha White appreciates RRFP's work to support people often excluded from reproductive rights discussions, including LGBTQ and POC communities.

Ash Griffith | April 9, 2018

When I say the phrase “Bowl-a-Thon,” a few images probably spring to your mind involving multi-colored shoes, heavy neon balls, and cheese fries from the café. However the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project (RRFP)’s annual fundraising project is so much more.

The Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project is an entirely volunteer run abortion fund founded in 2004 to provide financial support for someone needing abortion services in the Virginia area. Their annual fundraiser, which lasts from February to April each year, is called the “Bowl-a-Thon” because, as the RRFP’s website cheekily notes, they unfortunately could not go with “Abort-a-Thon” — although I’d support that as well.

However, it’s rare that bowling of any kind is ever involved. Participants do organize into teams in order to raise funds for RRFP, but the goal for those teams is not necessarily to bowl (though they certainly can), but to come up with various fun ways to get the community involved and supporting the cause while also having a great time.

RRFP Volunteer and NARAL Community Organizer Taneasha White became involved with the Bowl-A-Thon through working with NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League). White was looking for locally-based organizations that focused on reproductive rights, especially for communities of color. RRFP fit the bill, and with fundraising season in full swing, she decided to join and see what she could do to help. Thus, Team NARAL was born.

White finds it both important and impressive that so many people take time away from their jobs and lives to help keep RRFP running for anyone who needs it. “Sometimes people fall through the cracks when it comes to reproductive work, especially people who are non-binary, or people who don’t fit the title of cisgender female. They get left out of the conversation,” White said. “Supporting the community is really important, and RRFP makes it a point to support everyone — including communities of color, whether or not you identify as a woman, regardless what your sexuality is.”

Since abortion services are not always covered by healthcare providers, RRFP and its volunteers try to do what they can to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation in regards to their own bodies. White hopes that people will understand that an abortion is a medical procedure that people have the right to, but can’t always afford — especially since, even in the age of the embattled Affordable Care Act, not everyone can afford medical insurance.

“There are a lot of people who are in really bad situations who can’t [pay for an abortion] themselves because of how society is. They can’t ask their friend or parent or whoever, and a lot is not covered by insurance. And a lot of people do not have the means to get there,” she said. “There is an added stigma when it comes to reproductive related things. So I think that if you are a person who has the means to support the community, you should.”

White understands that music and the arts are a huge part of Richmond and its own culture and community, so she figured the perfect way to get people involved was to throw a show. “I was thinking of ways of how I could get people in Richmond engaged and involved that didn’t involve them just giving money,” White said. “Music is a big part of Richmond. I knew there are a bunch of local artists in the area that are either pro-reproductive rights or looking for a gig or both.”

The show White put together will feature performances from a variety of local electronic and hip hop musicians, including Ice Cream Support Group member Wabeya and up-and-coming “queer rap scallion” Alfred, along with Sanji The Hedgehog, Well$pnt, and Vos. There’s a suggested donation of $5 to RRFP, and there will be snacks and drinks available for donations as well. The event takes place at Soft Web Studio Collective, located at 3110 W. Leigh St in Scott’s Addition, this Sunday, April 15, beginning at 9 PM. To learn more about the event, click here. To donate to Taneasha White’s RRFP fundraising team, click here.