This past Sunday I attended a Learn To Knit Party, benefiting the Women’s Daytime Drop In Center in Berkeley. A friend of a friend was putting it on to bring exposure to the center’s work with homeless women and children. This is the only daytime drop in center a homeless mother and her young children can go for safe refuge and support in the Bay Area (most homeless shelters are closed during the day, so if you are at one, you must pack up all of your possessions in the morning and return back at night).
I asked their volunteer coordinator what items they most needed at the center. Guess what? Toiletries (e.g., deodorant, toothpaste) and, drum roll….diapers! The only reason why they don’t need feminine hygiene products is because they recently received a gift in kind from a major manufacturer. When the center runs out of diapers they send the moms to Bananas, where they are allotted six diapers a day. Even if you have twins, you receive only six diapers. Six!
The volunteer coordinator also shared with us some interesting tidbits: The fastest growing homeless population is women and children. Their center is seeing a lot of moms who have been evicted from their homes due to foreclosure. These are single moms who were gainfully employed, paying the rent on time, but because their landlord didn’t keep up with the mortgage, the banks evicted them. What does one do when you have no monetary safety net or family support system? How can you simultaneously keep your full time job, look for a place to rent, pick your kid up from childcare/school, and get back to the homeless shelter every day in time to secure your spot for that night? Not to mention, standing in bureaucratic lines for hours with a screaming 3 year old?