Help a Mother Out is dedicated to increasing access to diapers for families in need. Our vision is a day when every baby has a healthy supply of diapers.
What We Do
We distribute diapers to families in need through a network of existing community partners including Early Head Start programs, First 5 funded family resource centers, homeless and foster children services, public health departments and others.
As products of the “new economy” and proponents of “new philanthropy,” we realized early on that even though the size and scope of the diaper need problem was huge, the solution lay not in creating a vast organization but in developing a vast network. We recognized that the Bay Area (and all communities for that matter) was already full of strong and significant nonprofit organizations serving at-risk families, and that they would be the best qualified to ascertain who needed the diapers and how best to deliver them.
We also saw diapers as an innovative tool for social workers to become more relevant to their clients, further cementing relationships and improving parent/child outcomes for those they serve. As such, the diapers could better the individual lives of vulnerable moms and babies, while also adding value to the the quality and effectiveness of our community partners.
As our impact continues to grow, we remain a small, streamlined, and highly efficient organization. Guided by co-founder and executive director Lisa Truong, Help a Mother Out is powered by the generous support of our volunteers, citizen fundraisers, donors, advisers, and board of directors. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, we also have a sister chapter in Southern California and have facilitated diaper drives in other states including Arizona, New York and Washington. Our efforts have also inspired the start up of similar programs across the country. We are a fiscally sponsored project* of Community Initiatives, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
It’s all Oprah’s fault. During the great recession of 2009, Lisa Truong saw an Oprah segment featuring a middle-class family who’d lost their jobs, then their home, and were living in a shelter with their young children. That story, along with media reports about growing numbers of homeless families in California, spurred Lisa and her friend Rachel Fudge—who were both new mothers—to find a way to lend a hand.
As they reached out to family shelters in the San Francisco Bay Area, they learned that the number-one need wasn’t clothing, blankets, or even food but diapers—which aren’t covered under social-safety-net programs like WIC or food stamps and are in short supply. So Lisa and Rachel organized a Mother’s Day donation drive to collect diapers and wipes for local agencies. In one month, they collected more than 15,000 diapers via social networks like Facebook and Twitter, mom blogs, and listservs, as well as their real-world networks of mothers’ groups, local parenting stores, and play spaces. Surprised and awed by the overwhelming community support—and humbled by the breadth of need in California and across the country—they decided to nurture this seed of an idea into a truly grassroots movement.
Co-founder Lisa Truong currently serves as the organization’s executive director, while Rachel Fudge remains on the board of advisers.
What You Can Do
*From April, 2010 to September, 2011 Help A Mother Out was incubated as a social media innovation project at Point Foundation.
Photo credit: Pink Onesie from www.obeythebaby.com