Help a Mother Out works to improve baby and family well being by 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 social service partners including Early Head Start programs, First 5 family resource centers, homeless and foster children services, public health departments and others. We also advocate for the inclusion of diapers in the social safety net.
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 social service 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 gateway tool for social workers to become more relevant to their clients, further cementing relationships and improving family outcomes. As such, the diapers could better the individual lives of vulnerable moms and children, while also adding value to the quality and effectiveness of our community partners.
We serve families through a network of community partners. We do not distribute diapers to individual families. Since starting in 2009, our diaper program has become an integral part of our community partners’ services:
- 89% of participating social workers report that our diaper program significantly affects their program’s capacity to serve and sustain clients
- 83% noted that without our diapers, their programs would not be able to serve clients as effectively.
- 84% tell us that our diapers help lower anxiety, fatigue or financial stress among their clients.
- 72% report that our diapers help them build trust with clients.
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, 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.
Today, Lisa continues to serve as the organization’s founding executive director, 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 successful start up of similar programs outside of California. We are a fiscally sponsored project* of Community Initiatives, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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