A Dirty Little Problem With a Clean Solution

Composting Diapers Is An Environmentally Responsible Method With No Impact 

by Mark Siminoff

It’s hard to believe that something the size of a sack of flour could generate a mountain of waste. But every year in the United States babies produce more than 18 billion diapers that are thrown into landfills.

This struck me hard when I became a parent 10 years ago. My wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world along with a houseful of gadgets and disposable products, aka. “brandfill”. Every week we deposited heaps of diapers and wipes into our garbage and boxed up toys and gizmos he’d outgrown.

By the time we had our second child I realized just how much waste — particularly poopy diapers — we generate. It really got to me. While providing your baby with a diaper is not optional, the lifecycle of that product once it leaves his/her behind is. Surely there has to be a more environmentally responsible way to diaper, I thought. So began my research and a frustrating finding: Every diapering product — be it plastic, cloth, or semi‐compostable — is a consumption of natural resources, whether it’s gallons of water for laundering or acres of landfill for disposal.

Proponents of cloth diapers claim it’s better for the earth and baby to wash and dry nappies. Disposable users rave that plastic diapers are more convenient, absorbent and don’t require the use of water or detergents. Several name brand manufacturers have introduced bio‐degradable diapers or hybrid diaper consisting of a cloth cover with a disposable/flushable layer. But both still end up in the landfill.

While all sides of the debate make compelling arguments, the reality is they are not perfect and nor are their studies. Most of the published studies have been sponsored by factions from within the diaper industry. Not surprisingly the findings always support those parties that paid for it. A study by Franklin Associates in 1990 was funded by the American Paper Institute and showed disposable diapers to be better. 

A study by Lehrberger & Jones in 1991 was funded by the National Association of  Diaper Services and favored cloth diapering. A rare independent perspective was published in 2005 when London’s Environment Agency conducted a study to evaluate the impact of disposable versus cloth diapers. It found no clear winner or loser.

“There was no significant difference between any of the environmental impacts – that is, overall no system clearly had a better or worse environmental performance,” authors concluded in the report titled Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable Nappies in the UK .

As I watched my babies’ diapers being trucked out to the landfill each week, I started brainstorming an inconceivable idea: composting, a controlled natural process where yeasts, fungi and bacteria aerobically digest organic compounds turning it into dirt. When done properly composting produces little or no methane gas, destroys all pathogens, and yields rich, safe soil. What if we could turn something foul into a usable, salable product?

I first learned about composting when I was a little kid. I was at Pete Seeger’s — yes, the folk singer — house in Beacon, N.Y. and he had a composting toilet. It left such an impression on me that 30 plus years later I reflected on it as a possible solution to the diapering dilemma. I began looking for places to buy and compost diapers in the United States only to find that no such product or service existed here. 

I discovered a company in Sweden that makes compostable diapers that look and feel like disposable ones and are non‐toxic. I also found a space in the South Bay to compost the waste. My business plan went something like this: We’d drop off a batch of compostable diapers to a customer’s doorstep, pick up the dirty nappies, and drop them at the compost facility where they’d be turned to dirt, which would be used commercially.

EarthBaby started in September 2008 with 17 families in and around Mountain View. For 12 weeks, my business partners and I drove around in my personal pickup truck one morning each week dropping off and picking up diapers. After the beta program every single family continued using our service.

Eight years later we are expanding our footprint. My dream is to revolutionize diapering in the US and ultimately worldwide by composting diapers instead of disposing of them in landfills. While there are no simple solutions to most of our environmental problems, care and consideration at every step from the first to the last, is crucial to providing a healthy planet for our children.

About the author:

Mark Siminoff is the founder of EarthBaby, LLC. Prior to EarthBaby, Mark was a manager and mechanical engineer at the global product design firm IDEO. After the birth of his two children he was shocked at the volume of diaper waste that accumulated each week. That coupled with the awareness that the products he had dedicated his previous career to developing were only serving to exacerbate the landfill issues spurred the creation of EarthBaby, a compostable diapering service.

EarthBaby is a long term supporter of Help a Mother Out and a sponsor of the 2016 Let Good Grow Tea.

 

 

Creating a Better Breast Pump

Motherhood can be such a joyful experience. The breast pumps that go along with motherhood are quite the opposite. In fact, I’ve never met a mom who didn’t loathe her breast pump. As a mom to three young boys, pumping was a constant struggle for me as well; it was loud, painful, and so clunky that it made it a hassle to lug it around. Plus, when I returned to work full-time, I couldn’t find a pump that could easily facilitate pumping outside of the home. I often found myself wondering how everything else around me was improving and becoming more technologically advanced, but the one device that millions of women rely on was stuck in the archaic design of the mid-nineteenth century. Shouldn’t it be better than this by now? 

I relayed my frustrations to my husband, Jeff, who is an engineer. One night, he took apart my breast pump in the garage, looked at how it was constructed, and realized things could be built in a better way—a much better way, actually. Jeff was limited with the improvements he could make that night because the breast pump’s technology uses outdated technology. If we were going to make an efficient pump that is also comfortable and well designed, we needed to start from scratch. We started by redesigning the breast pump from the inside out. As a result, Naya is completely unique in its mechanics and makes pumping feel more like nursing a baby, rather than a painful, loud machine. The difference is that it uses a hydraulic, water-based system, which leads to a much more comfortable and quiet pumping experience. We also went a step further to incorporate smart technology into the pump that automatically tracks pumping sessions and the amount of milk expressed. It then takes this information and sends it to the Naya smartphone app along with expert tips for moms. My goal was to give mothers one less thing to have to keep track of. 

Traditional pumps I had used were bulky, making it a burden to haul it around outside of the home. That’s why with Naya, I wanted the design to be sleek and compact. There are fewer parts to store (or misplace!) because of the pump design, and when it’s all packed up, one can’t tell that it is even a breast pump because of the stylish design.

Lastly, I’ve been grateful to have the support of an expert advisory health and tech team. It’s what makes Naya Health possible. I work with a group of renowned physicians, lactation experts, and healthcare technologists who have joined me on this journey to help moms.  

We believe that all mothers deserve better, smarter, and more supportive solutions. In the months and years ahead, we look forward to introducing more products that make their lives easier and more pleasant. 

Janica Alvarez

CEO Naya Health and Mom of 3

Naya Health is a sponsor of the 2016 Let Good Grow Tea.

Got Bags?

Ever finish a conference or trade show and find that you over-ordered the swag? Wondering what to do with all those tote bags that have outdated info or messaging?

Let us help!

We are currently on the lookout for corporate in-kind donations of any type of reusable bags. We’ll be giving these bags to mothers to help them carry packages of diapers. And we’re not picky – we don’t mind branding or logos on the bags. We just want to give your old bags the chance to do good, and give parents some help carrying their things. Let’s get that swag back into action!

If you or your company is interested in clearing out overstock and donating it to our cause, let us know! Please contact Nora by calling 415-938-6667 or by emailing nora@helpamotherout.org.

Annual Tea: ScholarShare helps parents take the first steps

It seems that every time I turn around, there is another story on the news about college tuition prices going up, or on student loans reaching the trillion dollar mark. I, myself, am one of those who have more student debt than I care to admit. That’s why, if and when my daughter decides to go to college, I want to make sure we have a plan.

This year, we were delighted to have ScholarShare’s support as a Tea Stand Sponsor at our Annual Benefit Tea held on April 25th in San Francisco. We are excited to be partnering with ScholarShare – not only are we happy to get the word out to our supporters about the importance of saving for college, but we, too, have been inspired by talking with Garianne Dashiell, a TIAA-CREF consultant. True story – after talking with Garianne, both Lisa and Anna are ready to sign up!

 

I (Anna) was fortunate enough to spend some time talking with Garianne before the Tea. Full disclosure: I was a little intimidated about talking to an investment consultant. I’m no pro when it comes to money management, and I’m certainly out of my element when it comes to investing. But Garianne said this is one of the best parts of her job: helping to break down the misconceptions parents have about investing for college.

“As the mom of a college freshman, I know what it feels like to wonder where the money for college is going to come from,” said Garianne. That’s one of the reasons she does what she does: it feels important to her to get the word out to as many parents as she can that planning is possible and it’s relatively easy.

TIAA-CREF Consultant Garianne Dashiell

How easy, you ask? Color me surprised: To open a 529 account, all you need is $25. *That’s it.* That’s less than a week’s worth of my morning coffee indulgence. That’s less than half a tank of gas. That’s a dinner out with a friend.

That’s pretty easy.

And that’s all you need each month – a minimum of $25 to put towards your child’s college education. I’m not saying I don’t love my morning coffee, but when I weigh it against my daughter’s education? Well, college wins every time.

Another great feature of the ScholarShare plan is that other people can gift into it. Grandparents or aunts and uncles or friends can choose to contribute to your child’s 529 in lieu of gifting your household with tiny plastic toys that you step on in your bare feet. (Legos hurt, AmIRite?) Garianne told me the story of a baby she knew whose young, getting-on-their-feet parents asked for 529 contributions for his first birthday, rather than gifts. When all was said and done, that toddler had over $1000 to invest in his college education. By the time he was one! That’s impressive stuff.

Thanks so much to Garianne and ScholarShare for investing in Help a Mother Out, so that we can continue empowering moms through our life changing diaper program.

If you’re interested in learning more about ScholarShare, you can check out their website at scholarshare.com. And be sure to note that this coming May 29th is 529 Day, and Scholarshare will match your $50 contribution to a new Scholarshare account with $50 of their own. Or, if you want to talk to Garianne, she says “Call me! I’d love to chat. You can reach me 415-882-3626 or gdashiell@tiaa-cref.org.”

Mother’s Day Portraits To Help Moms

Los Angeles photographer and owner of Litetrap Studios, Michael Murphree, has offered Mother’s Day-themed mini sessions as a priceless gift for the moms in your life with all proceeds going to support Help a Mother Out’s efforts in Los Angeles.



Portrait by Michael Murphree

For a donation of $100, up to 20 mothers and their children will receive a 15-minute portrait session on May 17, two 5 x 7 prints, and a custom Facebook timeline photo.

Michael Murphree has 20 years of experience as a commercial and celebrity photographer, starting his career as apprentice to world-famous photographer Annie Leibovitz. It was when Michael had his own family that he fell in love with photographing his wife and twin babies. This led to the creation of Litetrap Studios, where Michael takes joy in capturing the special moments in other families’ lives with the goal of creating cherished heirlooms that pass on through generations.

The mini-sessions are available to up to 20 mothers and their children, and children of any age. Want a priceless memory of you with your own mother? This is a wonderful opportunity to have a true artist create a portrait of you, and help another mother out at the same time.

Studio space is generously provided by Books and Cookies, a bookstore and play space in Santa Monica.

To reserve your sitting appointment or to arrange for one as a gift to that special mom in your life on Mother’s Day, make your donation here.

Mother’s Day Mini-Sessions with Michael Murphree
May 17, 2015
Books and Cookies
2309 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
To purchase click here
For more information please contact Kim Tracy Prince at kim@helpamotherout.org

Q&A with Modern Table’s Moms-in-Charge

As a working parent, meal time is inevitably a challenge. It requires planning, preparation, and shopping on the weekends (I have nightmares about the lines at Costco on a Sunday). Even when I’m prepped and planned, my 2-year old can dissolve into a full-on hunger meltdown before I have time to warm up some food.

You can imagine my excitement, then, when I learned about Modern Table Meals. This year, Modern Table Meals has partnered with us by signing on as our Tea Pot sponsor at the upcoming Let Good Grow Tea, coming up Saturday, April 25th. They’ll be joining us at the event, and if you’ll be in attendance, we’ll have some goodies for you, courtesy of our friends at Modern Table.

Moms-in-charge Gulbin Hoeberechts and Jennifer Eiseman both worked in consumer packaged goods before starting Modern Table Meals. We were lucky enough to chat with them recently – check out their thoughts on running a business, women in leadership, and helping moms out.

Jennifer Eiseman & Gulbin Hoeberechts

On the motivation to start Modern Table:

Jennifer: My cooking skills are less than stellar and my kids don’t seem to like anything healthy (help!) – hence, [I had a] personal need for healthy, yummy, easy-to-make meals!

Gulbin: I am a working mom. I am not particularly good at cooking. I have little time, yet I want to give my family nutritious, delicious food they will eat (even my picky one!). When dinner is done I want to feel good. Easy to say, hard to do, especially when you have to do it every day. So, the mission behind Modern Table Meals is to make it easy to get healthy, yummy meals on the table at any time. No barriers.

On partnering with Help A Mother Out:

Jennifer: As a working mom of three, I know how much help moms need. If getting essentials, like diapers, gives moms more time to do things like making meals for their family, I am in!

Gulbin: They say that “it takes a village,” and it is so true. The idea behind Modern Table was helping moms out during mealtime. We also want to help moms out in a broader way, and when we discovered Help A Mother Out, it felt like an exciting match!

On women in leadership roles:

Jennifer: Mothers inherently make great leaders because that’s what we do: we lead our families. At Modern Table, we take those skills and amplify them in the business world, while still respecting the time it takes to be a mom. Flexible work schedules and locations lead to healthy, happy moms, and those moms can change the world.

Gulbin: I find that women carry a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. Empowering women is essential. We are passionate about women and empowering them with easy, effective tools so they can excel. We understand women can be better leaders if they can have balance, so we create an environment to support that and help each other out.

On the craziest meal idea they’ve ever had:

Jennifer: A meal that does the dishes for me. (Editor’s Note: AMEN SISTER!)

Gulbin: My picky little guy does not eat meat protein, but loves yogurt on everything. I bought a Vitamix to totally dissolve chicken in yogurt to make a sauce [he would eat.] The lengths we go to . . .

The Modern Table Meals team

Thanks to Modern Table Meals for spending time with us, and for their upcoming support of Let Good Grow, HAMO’s 5th Annual Benefit Tea. You can check out Modern Table’s four tasty meal options, and learn more about their company, by visiting moderntablemeals.com. You can also find them on Facebook by visiting facebook.com/moderntablemeals.

A.B. 717: CA Sales Tax Exemption for Diapers

Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez et al.  has just introduced A.B. 717 into the California State Legislature. The bill would allow for a sales tax exemption with regard to diapers for infants and toddlers. This is an important step in recognizing diapers as a basic human need. We wholly support this legislation.

Special thanks to Asm. Gonzalez and her co-authors for their leadership in introducing this important piece of legislation. You can find the bill here.

We urge our California community of supporters to contact your Assembly Member and State Senator to express your support of A.B. 717. Find your State Legislators here.

Giving Tuesday Challenge Match: EBay Foundation

It’s #GivingTuesday and we are thrilled to announce that EBay Inc. Foundation has generously offered to match your gift today, dollar for dollar, up to $2,500. Click to GIVE.

“Natalie was living in a trailer and did not have enough money for diapers. She was forced to use folded shirts. She was embarrassed to go to her baby’s doctor. After she received diaper assistance, she overcame her fear of going out in public with her child.”

– Beth, Social Worker

Our goal before the end of March 2015 is to distribute over 250,000 diapers to low-income families. Bottom line: even by the truckload, diapers cost money. We do this because our diaper program changes lives. Our friends at EBay, Inc. Foundation recognize the important work that we do and we know that YOU do to. Please consider this matching opportunity your chance to do a little extra good on #GivingTuesday. GIVE NOW.

Thank you for your amazing support of our mission!

Book @UrbanSitter + help a mother

Our friends @UrbanSitter has been long time supporters of our cause and we are excited to announce a new partnership with them.

Need a babysitter for after school or date nights?

Enjoy a free trial from our friends at UrbanSitter, a website and app designed to help Bay Area families find trusted babysitters and nannies.

When you book your first sitter using code GIVEHAMO15, Help a Mother Out will receive a $20 donation from UrbanSitter and you get your first booking for FREE.

Sign up & get UrbanSitter discount >>

Many of us at HAMO currently use UrbanSitter to find trustworthy babysitters and we’re excited to bring this opportunity to our community.

This offer is for new UrbanSitter clients only. If you already use UrbanSitter’s app, you can still help moms by telling your network of parents about this awesome offer.

Diaper Need & Public Policy, Oct 15th @ Berkeley

Join the Conversation

Diaper Need & Public Policy Panel Discussion

5:30pm Check-in, Wine & Cheese Reception

6-7pm Panel Discussion

The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Tamalpais Room, Berkeley, CA 94704

The Problem

One in three families struggle with diaper need. For families and babies who lack affordable access to diapers, there are severe health and social consequences. Consider:

  • SNAP (food stamps) and WIC do not cover diapers.
  • Insufficient diaper supply is a significant risk factor for poor infant and child health, as well as for maternal mental health (Pediatrics, 2013).
  • Disposable diapers are required to attend most subsidized childcare programs. When a family lacks access to diapers, they miss opportunities for work, school or job training.

Solutions

Join us for the Bay Area’s first-ever panel discussion on nonprofit and governmental options for addressing diaper need in California. The program includes speakers familiar with the “Unmet Diaper Need Act” introduced in 2014 in the California Legislature, San Francisco’s forthcoming diaper voucher program for families receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families, as well as child poverty experts and leaders from the diaper bank community.

Moderator

Anat Shenker, ASO Communications

Panelists

  • Alysia Cox, Fellow (Safety Net Team), Women’s Policy Institute, Women’s Foundation of California
  • Dan Kelly, Director of Planning, San Francisco Human Services Agency
  • Jane Mauldon, Associate Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy, U.C. Berkeley
  • Lisa Truong, Founder & Executive Director, Help a Mother Out
  • Alison Weir, J.D., Director of Programs & Policy, National Diaper Bank Network

Space is limited. Reserve your spot!

Update on AB 1516

I want to thank all of our supporters who sent tweets, emails, and phone calls of support to the CA Senate Appropriations Committee this past month. Last Thursday, August 14th, the Committee held AB 1516 in suspense. This means the bill did not make it out of committee.

While we are disappointed AB 1516 did not make it to Governor Brown’s desk, we are uplifted by your incredible support of the bill and our work to get much needed diapers to vulnerable children and families.

All is not lost. Together with YOU, we raised awareness on diaper need, both at the State Capitol and nationally. No other statehouse in the country has EVER discussed the social and economic barriers that vulernable families face as a result of diaper need. The fact that California legislators had the opportunity to consider the bill represents incredible progress. Local and national media outlets covered the bill, including the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostSacramento BeeThe NationTalk Poverty, and Think Progress (among others).

What’s next? The bill’s author, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-80, San Diego) intends to reintroduce the bill in 2015. We plan to work closely with her office to support the bill next legislative year. Of course, we will keep you updated on ways you can help in the future.

We are proud to have engaged legislators, from both sides of the aisle on this crucial issue. We are even more proud that YOU are a part of our grassroots network of supporters. Thank you for your advocacy and support.

How you can support AB 1516

Today, you and I have the opportunity to improve the well being of California’s most needy babies and their families, by increasing their access to diapers. California Assembly Bill 1516 (Gonzalez D-80), aka The Diaper Act, will be heard before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday August 4th. This “Little Bill That Could” has already passed two Assembly Committees, an Assembly floor vote, and the Senate Human Services Committee. In the last few months we’ve been working hard behind the scenes with fellow advocates to support the bill. I testified in April and our board chair, Allison, will testify at the August hearing. The bill has been well received at the Capitol and our dream is to send it to Governor Brown’s office. First, we need to get it out of Senate Appropriations on August 4th.

What will AB 1516 do? AB 1516 would provide an additional $80 monthly supplement for children 0-2 years, who are living in CalWORKs-assisted households. It would ensure that parents can meet their children’s diapering needs in order to access childcare, work and job training. It is the FIRST and ONLY statehouse proposal in the nation that offers a large-scale solution to address the diapering needs of our most vulnerable children. Remember, diapers cost on average of $75-$100/month. That’s a lot of dough when you are struggling. In the last 5 years we’ve shared heartbreaking stories about moms choosing to forego food in order to buy diapers, moms missing work/school and children denied early learning opportunities because of a lack of diapers.

Alysia (WPI Fellow), Shelby (witness), Jenny (WPI Fellow), Anna (HAMO), & Caroline (LA Diaper Drive) at the Capitol in June.

This 2-minute video was produced by a few graduate students in Stanford’s d.school’s course Design Thinking and Public Policy. Shout out to Sarah and the entire class!

Diaper Shortages Leave Low-Income Kids Behind Before They Can Even Walk

This post originally appeared at TalkPoverty.org and is reposted with permission.

Ask a county social worker, a food bank director, or any organization that assists families in low-income communities, and you will likely learn that they all experience a similar predicament each month. They do not have enough diapers. Diapers are the most requested basic need item, and organizations always run out.

Unmet diaper needs impact families’ ability to work and the public health of the communities where they live. Because diapers are required by most child care facilities, lack of diapers can reduce access to work and poor diapering can facilitate the spread of disease in public spaces.

According to The Diaper Bank, an adequate supply of diapers cost $100 or more per month. Making things worse, safety net programs such as TANF, SNAP and WIC do not allot money for diapers. Benefits themselves are already low. In California, the maximum TANF benefit—which provides cash assistance—is no more than 40% of the federal poverty level (around $670 per month for a family of three). According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there isn’t a state in the country with a TANF benefit higher than ½ of the federal poverty line. To get by, families report diapering less. Some even report that their infants or toddlers have spent a day or longer in one diaper, which not only leads to potential health risks for the baby, but also puts them at risk for social, emotional and behavioral problems, according to aPediatrics study.

Here in California, there are eleven diaper banks that are part of the National Diaper Bank network. Meeting the unmet diaper needs of very young children with donated diapers is their business, and they too report shortages on a regular basis and admit to covering only a small percentage of the state.

This is what I learned when I started advocating in support of a bill introduced in California this year by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez and Senator Holly Mitchellto address the growing unmet need among poor families with infants and toddlers. The idea that we need legislation to address unmet diaper needs usually gets a chuckle out of most people at first. However, the grim reality is that a lack of an adequate supply of diapers can have severe mental, emotional, and developmental impacts on parents and children. In response, Assembly Bill 1516 would provide an $80 per month diaper supplement to eligible children receiving public assistance and would create a public-private partnership fund to help facilitate the distribution of financial donations and diaper contributions to the neediest of families.

My work on the bill is through the Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) at the Women’s Foundation of California. The WPI trains women about how the legislative process works and how to advocate for legislative change. Since I am a single mom who knows how costly it can be to keep an infant adequately diapered and how difficult it can be to try to figure it out on your own, I am motivated to make the most of this opportunity. Still, I am most inspired by the personal stories and the sense of how real policy decisions can impact real people’s lives.

A mother I know who has three little girls is one of these real people whose story has inspired me. She was working several jobs, but was still living under the poverty line and receiving just over $100 a month in TANF assistance, when extra hours at work and $20 more in her paycheck made her ineligible for the TANF program.

She lacked job security at her hourly jobs, and the loss of the income from TANF left her family on unstable footing. As a result, she struggled to meet her children’s basic needs. She told me about how she forced her children to potty train way before they were ready to save money and about her feelings of being overwhelmed with stress during this period in her family’s life.

Throughout the legislative session, the team of advocates working on this bill has heard other powerful testimonies about the consequences for children when parents are unable to make it through the end of each month without reusing lightly soiled diapers or prolonging periods between diaper changes.

I don’t know if Assembly Bill 1516 will pass and, if it gets passed, if it would get signed. But I hope that its introduction has helped to educate lawmakers in our state’s Capitol about the great risks associated with deep poverty and unmet diaper needs and to inspire them to do something about it.  I also know that bills like this one, which tackle the real needs of real people and real policy solutions, are desperately needed from Sacramento to Albany and in every state capitol in between.  Until we confront the human and fiscal costs associated with allowing children to live in deep poverty and the deep inequities that start at birth, our poorest children will be hampered by unequal footing before they even learn to walk.

Alysia Cox is a single mother (of a five-year-old) and dedicated advocate for low-income families. She currently serves as a Community Development Commissioner for the city of Richmond, California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from The University of California, Davis. She is also a 2013-14 Women’s Policy Institute Fellow through the Women’s Foundation of California. 

Diaper Drive: State Capitol #Sacramento June 9-27th

Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez is hosting a diaper drive at the State Capitol in Sacramento from June 9 – 27th. Diapers collected will be distributed to local families in need through the River City Food Bank. 

WHY: Get diapers to Sacramento families in need and raise awareness on A.B. 1516.

DONATE: Diapers (all sizes welcome, sizes 4-6 especially)*

WHERE: Drop-off Diaper Donations at Capitol Office of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez State Capitol – Room 5158

*All diaper donations will be matched by Help a Mother Out, up to 5,000 diapers.

You can help spread the word to local Sacramento folks. Forward this blog post ordownload/print the flyer.

Support for the drive is a joint collaboration between Gonzalez’s office, the Safety Net team at theWomen’s Policy Institute and Help a Mother Out.

Thank you for making a difference!

Thank You Safeway – Mom to Mom

Earlier this Spring, we had the wonderful opportunity to be introduced to the good folks at Safeway, Inc. and their in-store Mom to Mom brand. When they heard about our work getting diapers to low income families, they made a very generous offer to send an amazing 30,000 diapers (that’s 5 pallets) to our Santa Clara warehouse. Not only did they send diapers, but they sent volunteers to help us at our monthly sorting and distribution day.

Pictured above: Safeway, Inc. employees volunteering at our Santa Clara warehouse in April.

We are especially grateful, as the Mom to Mom diapers came during a typically low volume month. What’s more, we received our most needed sizes (3-4-5). Special thanks to Cindy, Danielle, Christy, Chris and Valerie for your efforts in connecting the dots, helping to facilitate this donation and for volunteering.

p.s. To bring even more awesome, the in kind donation from Safeway Inc., coincided with a generous $1,000 grant award made by Safeway Foundation’s corporate employee giving fund. The grant will be put towards bulk procurement of diapers that will ultimately benefit low income families in the Bay Area region.

Clara

We shared “Clara’s” story, as told by her case manager, La Tanya, at our annual event in March. Her name and some details of her story are changed for privacy.

Good morning. My name is LaTanya. I’m a case manager at the CVC. Since my son Eli was born, the idea of running out of diapers horrifies me, and makes me grateful for programs like Help A Mother Out. Every time I purchase diapers for Eli, I think about all the moms who can’t afford to do the same.

For the last 14 years I have worked directly with homeless families, and I know that access to diapers can make food, medicine and shelter possible for low-income families. Until started working at CVC I had never heard of programs that donate diapers and always daydreamed with coworkers that one day we’d be able to provide them. Help A Mother Out made my dreams a reality.

Today I’m here to tell you about one mom and her family: Clara and her two sons. Andre is her youngest son. He is 7 years old and has autism. Matthew is her oldest son who is 17 years old. He is about to graduate from high school and has dreams of going to college.

I met Clara a few months ago, after Help A Mother Out connected her with me. When I called Clara, she was crying. She explained to me that she was a single mom, working as a part time medical clerk, and she was having an especially hard time. Andre has autism. He has no verbal skills and hasn’t retained any sign language. So potty training has been extremely difficult for her. She kept apologizing to me over the phone for needing help.

That day I talked to her three times. It became clear to me early on that Clara was extremely isolated, and did not know about resources were available to her family. The more I talked to her, the more I felt helpless.  So many women like Clara get lost, because they don’t know about resources that could help.

I told Clara about MediCAL – because Andre is an older child with special needs, she could ask his doctor about prescription for diapers. She told me that Andre hasn’t been to see a doctor in awhile. We agreed that she would come into see me.

On the day she came to see me, the first thing I did before conducting a needs assessment interview, was give her diapers for Andre. She wasn’t expecting the help and seemed really shocked and kept saying “god bless you, thank you for helping me.” She cried uncontrollably. She could not believe that someone was helping her family.

Clara seemed worn down from taking care of her son with virtually no help. It was clear to me that she was a loving mother, but at her wits end with caring for Andre. She was under an incredible amount of emotional stress. As he has grown older, Andre has become more difficult to care for. The few relatives they have in the area have abandoned them. Clara, Andre and her older son Matthew are now homeless. They live in a friend’s garage.

After our first visit, I walked Clara and Andre to their car. After Andre was settled, Clara turned to me and gave me one of the longest hugs I’ve received in my life. It seemed to last for 20 minutes. It was the kind of hug where you literally feel the raw emotions and sadness from the other person, but also the kind of hug that there was hope. I became overwhelmed with emotion knowing that with Help A Mother Out, I could have this kind of impact on a family.

I think that even if I had just given her 4 diapers she would have been just as thankful. She kept saying thank you. God bless you. I’m so glad that I met you. I am shaken from the experience. Being able to help her that day gave me confirmation that I am in the right profession.

If Clara were here today, she would tell you that she came to me for diaper help, but that these diapers from Help A Mother Out ended up bringing the help and resources she desperately needed. Today Clara, Andre and Matthew are still living in that garage. Andre is in the process of getting enrolled in occupational therapy and he is scheduled to see a doctor for the first time in years. It’s going to be a long road for them but we are in the process of getting them the help they need and deserve – and we have the diapers to thank for starting this journey.

I’m here to tell you that diapers DO change lives and I’m really honored to be part of this program that truly makes a difference. I hope you will be too.

Thank you.

 

* “Clara” image via Babble.com

Shop Mother’s Day @ Trina Turk, Burlingame

We are very excited to announce that Trina Turk’s Burlingame store will be holding a Mother’s Day shopping event to help raise awareness and much needed funds for our program. Thank you to Aimee Linhoff, Dana Griffin and everyone at Trina Turk for organizing this wonderful opportunity for the community to give back!

Here are the details:


  • 10 am to 6 pm Friday May 9th and Saturday May 10th, 1223 Burlingame Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010, phone (650) 340-8540

  • 15% of all sales will benefit HAMO.

  • Lite bites and bubbles served all day, both days

  • Please tell your friends!

Congratulations Earth Baby! #EarthDay

At our 4th Annual Benefit Tea last March, we were thrilled to honor our partners at Earth Baby with our first every Let Good Grow Community Impact Award. The annual award is meant to honor and recognize individuals, groups and businesses who make amazing contributions to our mission impact throughout the year.

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to share with you Mark Siminoff’s (Founder and CEO) acceptance speech, which he talks about how he came to learn about Help A Mother Out and how we started partnering together.

In addition to being honored at our annual event, Earth Baby will also be honored at the Acterra Business Environment Awards reception in May. We wish Earth Baby all the best as they continue to grow, and are looking forward continuing to partner with them to help us get diapers to babies who would otherwise go without.

Here’s his speech!

Thank you Kristen for that wonderful introduction. And Lisa, it is an honor to be recognized by Help A Mother Out and it is a privilege to be collaborating with you.

I first became aware of Help A Mother Out a few years ago when one of EarthBaby’s customers emailed me to request that we donate a raffle prize for Help a Mother Out’s Annual Benefit Tea…

I looked into Help a Mother Out and quickly realized that both EarthBaby and Help a Mother Out are doing amazing things for the world in our own ways, so I set up a meeting with Lisa. When she came to my office she explained how Help A Mother Out works and how logistically challenging it was to collect and store diapers that were donated from their public donation sites. She explained that as a non-profit, it is relatively easy to get in kind product donated, but centralizing their inventory and logistics was an ongoing challenge and a significant expense. For me it was immediately apparent how EarthBaby could help. EarthBaby had a warehouse with space available, a fleet of delivery trucks, and drivers who are servicing the very same neighborhoods where Help A Mother Out’s collection bins are located.

I called Lisa back the very next morning and explained that we could solve Help A Mother Out’s logistical challenge by providing warehouse space and transportation for all of their in kind donations…. It was the right thing to offer in 2012 and today EarthBaby continues to contribute to Help A Mother Out’s mission to make sure that every baby has the diapers they need.

Even though EarthBaby is in the business of diverting diapers from landfill, we also realize that being in a position to choose between different diapering methods is a privilege that not every Bay Area family has. Today there are about 235,000 children in diapers in the Bay Area. As Lisa will tell you, roughly 30 percent of these children’s parents are struggling to survive every day. As a company, and personally for me as a dad of two children, we realize that it is our responsibility to give back to families in need – families who do not have the option to choose disposable diapers, cloth diapers, and yes even compostable ones.

It’s truly an honor and a privilege to contribute to this cause. I encourage each of you to find a way to get involved too.

Thank you.

Thank you, Mark and everyone at Earth Baby for being super heroes to our families – EVERYDAY!


Dear Reader, if you or someone you know is expecting a baby in the Bay Area, please consider checking out Earth Baby’s diaper service. We don’t need to be partners with them to tell you that they are a great and innovative small business to support! 

Image credits: Earth Baby’s Facebook Page.

This Mother’s Day, #GiveAMinute

Mother’s Day is a special time to celebrate the moms in our lives and let them know that we love them. This year, in lieu of flowers, we encourage you to honor her by giving the gift of diapers to struggling moms and babies.

Why Diapers?

 

Diapers are a small thing that make a big difference. 1 in 3 families struggle to provide diapers, and:

  • CalFresh and WIC programs prohibit the purchase of diapers.
  • Most subsidized childcare programs require a supply of disposable diapers to stay enrolled.
  • In a 2013 Feeding America survey, 34% of low-income families said that they reused diapers and 48% said that they would delay changing a dirty diaper.
  • A recent study from the Journal of Pediatrics strongly suggests that insufficient diaper supply is a significant risk factor for poor infant and child health, as well as for maternal mental health.

The good news is, 84% of social workers that participate in our diaper program report that access to diapers lowers anxiety, fatigue and stress among their clients. And you can do something to help!

This year our Mother’s Day Campaign theme is Give A Minute For Mom. Because it only takes a minute to make a real difference, and we need your help to reach more vulnerable families!

How You Can Help

  • Honor a mom you love by making a financial gift online. We’ll send your honoree a swell card! Mother’s Day is May 11th! Click HERE to honor her.
  • Visit one of our drop bin partner locations to donate diapers through May 31st. We currently need diaper sizes 4 and 5 especially. Snap a photo of the visit and let us know on social media!
  • Spread the word! Share our campaign with your friends on social media, using #giveaminute, and encourage them to honor moms too. At the end of this post you’ll find a few sample tweets/status updates you can use.

Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram this month as we celebrate and share ways to #GiveAMinute For Mom.

Check out Maria’s inspiring story to learn more about why diapers matter.