Partner Orgs

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.”

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!

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. 

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

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.

Help a mother out with a quick click over to Slidelane.com

Slidelane is a resource for new parents to find, share and recommend the best places and services in their neighborhood. Listings on the site include sleep training consultants, music classes, meal delivery services and family-friendly restaurants. It’s a brand new site and the co-founders are new advocates of Help A Mother Out. For that, we are extremely grateful.

From Tuesday, February 11 through Friday, February 14, Slideline will be donating diapers to families in need. Each new sign up results in 25 diapers donated in your honor.

Registering for access to Slidelane involves no commitment or cost and only takes two minutes. Help spread the love!

Sign up for Slidelane now >

Curt’s Story: In Honor of Father’s Day

In honor of Father’s Day, we want to share a moving testimonial from a father.

Curt’s story was highlighted at our annual Let Good Grow event by Phoebe Rubin. Phoebe is a volunteer at our partner agency, the Bayview Mission, a ministry of Grace Cathederal in San Francisco.

Here is what Phoebe shared with us:

I am a mother and the idea of running out of diapers horrifies me. That’s why I’ve volunteered at the baby ministry at Bayview Mission in San Francisco for the last four years.

I’ve given out diapers hundreds of diapers to families, and I know that access to diapers can mean the difference between having food, medicine and shelter—and not having those things.

I’m want to tell you about one family in particular. Curt is in his early 40’s and takes care of his baby Mia full time. Before his accident, Curt was a college-educated artist who made large metal sculptures and did construction work to pay the bills. Not anymore. Curt’s leg was badly injured when he fell from a 3rd story window at work. Surgery on Curt’s leg was botched, and his request for a second surgery was denied. Now, walking is a challenge for Curt. He lives on disability. One of the few times he goes out each week is when he comes to the ministry to pick up diapers and baby food for Mia.

Knowing Curt has made me grateful for my health, and the health of my family. That’s because Curt told me: that he never, in all of his life, dreamed that he would lose his health.  Curt grew up in a middle-class family. He never imagined himself disabled, needing help, instead of working and creating his art.  I bet many of you can hardly imagine that either.

About 3.5 years ago, Help a Mother Out started bringing diapers to our ministry. To us volunteers, being able to help families like Curt’s felt like winning the lottery. I have to admit that I look forward to seeing Curt roll up in his car each week with Mia.  He is such a well-informed and fun person. Every week I learn something new from him about local politics or current events.

Curt would say that diapers from Help a Mother Out have made it possible for him to buy things his family could not survive without. Instead of worrying about how to buy diapers, Curt can concentrate on parenting Mia. And that investment is paying off big time. Mia is a happy well taken care of baby.

Because of HAMO, Curt can do what he needs to do for his family—and his own health–rather than worrying about diapers. One day a few weeks back, after providing diapers for Curt dozens of times, there was a day when we ran out. The need is so enormous that, even though HAMO works around the clock, they can’t always provide diapers for every baby. I had to go out to Curt’s car and turn him away. He took the news calmly, but I wondered what was going through his mind, facing the week without HAMO’s help.  As I turned to go back inside, my heart felt heavy.  At that moment, it struck me what an enormous thing a diaper really is, and what a difference it can make in a life.  I’m happy to say that I gave Curt a bundle of diapers this week, thanks to HAMO.  Curt thanked me, and I thank HAMO for making lives like Curt’s, and his baby Mia’s, easier.

Curt’s story reminds us to be grateful for what we do have while encouraging us to remember that there are those who encounter unexpectedly difficult challenges in life.

As you honor the fathers in your life, we want to thank you for all that you do for dads like Curt.

How will you celebrate Father’s Day?

Diaper Stories: School Kicks Off Diaper Drive With a Jingle

Candeo School in Phoenix, Arizona recently kicked off a school-wide diaper drive.  They support their local agency, Baby Diaper Drive, which holds an annual effort with the goal of collect 200,000 diapers and money to fund an emergency diaper stash for Homeward Bound, which supports underemployed and homeless parents and children. Local schools compete to see which one can collect the most diapers, and the one that wins gets a prize!

With a little bit of elbow grease and a school community full of eager kids and parents, this diaper drive will help BDD reach their goal in no time! The best part of their kickoff event, below, is at 2:10, when the whole school sings their little diaper drive jingle.

Who We Serve

Since inception we’ve distributed diapers to a number of organizations in California and elsewhere in the U.S.  Between January, 2011 and January, 2012 we served families through the following agencies. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this happen! Special thanks go to our friends at Huggies Every Little Bottom and St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County. 

Southern California

  • Ascencia (LA County)
  • Building a Generation (Inland Empire)
  • LA Diaper Drive (LA County)
  • Salvation Army,East Los Angeles Community Center (LA County)
  • Bayside Community Center (San Diego County)

Northern California

Alameda & Contra Costa Counties

  • Brighter Beginnings
  • Center for the Vulnerable Child (Children’s Hospital of Oakland)
  • Oakland Early Head Start
  • St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County (West Oakland Women’s Center)
  • Operation Shower
  • Prenatal Care Guidance (PCG), a program of the Contra Costa Public Health Dept.
  • Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center (WDDC)

Monterey County

  • Monterey County Association of Families Caring for Children

San Francisco County

  • Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP)
  • Bayview Mission
  • APA Family Support Services (APA)

San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties

  • Baby Basics of the Peninsula
  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford (Social Services)
  • Star Vista (formerly YFES)
  • Creation Home Ministries
  • West Valley Community Services
  • City Team Ministries, San Jose
  • EHC Lifebuilders

Viviana’s Story

Viviana was too ashamed to drop her child off to daycare without diapers, therefore would have missed school to remain home with her child. Thank goodness for Help A Mother Out, the Family Advocate was able to make an emergency drop-off to Viviana. She didn’t have to miss school and was able to take her child to daycare with clean diapers.
— Cynthia, Program Director, Brighter Beginnings, First 5 Resource Center

With your help, moms like Viviana are on the road to self sufficiency. Please consider sending a message of hope to our families with your gift today. In doing so you’re joining the HAMO family, working to sustain a much needed safety net in the year to come. Thank you for your generosity and commitment to our families.

Diaper Bank Partners: @DCDiaperBank Washington D.C. #hamo

This is the story of our newest partner the DC Diaper Bank as told by Corinne Cannon, founder and Executive Director of the DC Diaper Bank.

In October 2009 my husband Jay and I welcomed our first baby, a beautiful boy named Jack who turned out to be the world’s worst baby. Colicky, restless, high needs, call it what you will, he was awful! I distinctly remember sitting up with him one night/morning at 5am rocking him as he cried and thinking, “how do you do this if you don’t have enough money and family support?” Here I was with a ton of support — grandparents and aunts and uncles, a wonderful partner who was a 100% parent, and we were financially secure — and yet I still had days where I just couldn’t believe how hard it was.

I began to think about other mothers and about how I could help make raising an infant easier for people who lacked support. Then I began to research — I found out that diapers, something it seemed like we were buying all the time for Jack, weren’t covered by food stamps. I learned about the Diaper Bank in Connecticut and the one in Southern Arizona, and I saw an ad for the Huggies Every Little Bottom Campaign. I decided I would volunteer at the diaper bank in our area — it would become our charity of choice and we’d be helping mothers in a very tangible way. But then I found out there was no diaper bank in DC or Maryland or Virginia, or even Delaware or West Virginia.

I began to call non-profits who worked with mothers in DC and asked if they needed diapers for their clients and if so how they got them. The answers were striking and sad — one organization told me diapers were their number one need; another quickly rattled off the sizes they were most in need of. I decided after those phone calls to start a diaper bank — and we’ve been moving forward ever since. The response has been amazing! Dozens of diaper drives, donations from near and far, emails of support and thank you from strangers, and lots and lots of diapers! We have been lucky to partner with the Capital Area Food Bank, the largest food bank in the metro area, for storage and distribution of the diapers we collect. Initially we are working with eight social service organizations in DC, MD, and VA and are hoping to expand to more soon. The response from the organizations has been tremendous — diapers are a resource that they are always in need of. We feel strongly about providing diapers to organizations to use in ways that will best serve their clients – some organizations are food pantries and provide diapers as an emergency supply; others distribute them as an incentive for attendance at parenting classes; one low-income daycare uses them in their center.

I never intended to start a non-profit, but the need was too great to not do something and I knew this was a small piece of the puzzle that I could impact. I find that the “needs” in our community can be daunting to the point of paralysis sometimes — how do we tackle entrenched poverty? How do we build a society that values children and women? How do we create a social safety net that supports and propels families toward real self-sufficiency and stability? How do we all come to a place of truly understanding that things like food and shelter and diapers (and tampons and soap….) are not luxury items but basic necessities that no one should go without? I don’t know the answers to all of those questions, but I do know that it starts with simple, tangible, daily action.

Our mission statement, which some people have told us is far too grand for an organization that provides diapers, is about thinking about the issue of need in our community as something we all can and should impact — start small and build. Small individual actions like talking about child poverty; sharing a link about the issue; donating a pack of diapers or a few dollars; being an informed member of the community who asks questions about how new legislation or policies will impact those who are least able to ask that question for themselves; being a voice. Larger collective actions include large-scale diaper drives in neighborhoods, at businesses and day cares, and volunteering with others on the issue of poverty. The DC Diaper Bank does some of all of these things every day with the idea and the faith that if more people know and understand the needs and how to help alleviate the need in the short term, as well as address the issues long term through policy and paradigm changes, we will get to the place where families have all they need to thrive.

When I began this someone told me that it was pointless, that a clean diaper only helped a baby in the short term. They aren’t wrong: one clean diaper doesn’t solve the issue of infant and child poverty. But this person had probably never spent any time with a crying baby! One clean diaper does improve the short term, and the short term can build the long term for a child. I was amazed by some of the research that showed just what kind of an effect something as simple as a regular supply of clean diapers can have on an entire family unit – babies are happier and healthier, which means parents are less stressed and are able to focus their resources more on strengthening their family.

DC, like many communities, is facing a lot of financial challenges, and due to the recession social services have been hit hard. Before we founded the DC Diaper Bank, organizations that worked with families relied on unexpected diaper donations, or sometimes were able to devote some “extra” funds to diaper purchases in a given month. There was no steady supply of diapers for any of these organizations. We’re hoping to become that reliable source for many of these area organizations, and allow them to more effectively serve their clients. This is the biggest response we have gotten from the other organizations – they are grateful to have a steady supply of something that, for one, is a constant need for many of their clients, and for another, is something that many donors do not immediately think of when they are putting together a charitable donation. Most people think canned or packaged food for a shelter or a food pantry, not packaged diapers. Our biggest challenge now is going to be to keep up the supply to match the ever-increasing demand.

Our goal is to one day “be out of business.” The large questions come looming back — how do you change food stamp policies? How do we provide for all in our society? How do we ensure every child, and every parent, has a fair chance to succeed? I think that the answer to all these questions, and the key to making the need for DC Diaper Bank and Help a Mother Out obsolete, lies in increasing understanding around these isues so that whole cities and states are compelled to act. Start small and build. There is a quote from Mother Teresa that I have above my computer that propels me forward each day: “Do not wait for leaders. Do it alone, person to person.” A speech won’t get us there — talking, questioning, teaching, and showing will. The speech comes at the end.

In just nine short months, we have put together an organization that I am truly proud of. We have a lot of work left to do, but it is heartening to hear from our partner organizations, who tell us that our diapers are out there right now, making lives better for babies and families all over our community.

To find out more about the DC Diaper Bank check them out here, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Corinne tells me that Jack, that colicky baby, is now the most joyous and fun toddler.

What I’m Doing With My #BlogHer11 Swag #hamo

Are we friends yet? We’d be delighted for you to join us on Facebook.

There is always so much a do about The Swag at #BlogHer. Some of it really swell and useful, others conjure up the thought “what were they smoking when they came up with this idea?” I’m not naming brands here, but if you’ve been on the expo floor, you know what I’m talking about.

Being in this line of work makes you think a lot about “stuff.” The haves and the have nots, and the incredible amount of stuff that is present at a conference where brands are trying their darnedest to grab the attention of highly influential household decision makers (go women!). Kudos to the folks behind BlogHer whose efforts to reduce waste are commendable.

The Sunday after the conference I went through all the swag I procured. I was judicious with what I accepted at the expo hall, really keeping an eye on practical everyday items. Being someone who did not attend many of the private parties, my guess is that I hadn’t accumulated much stuff compared to other conference attendees.

Anyways, the only thing I ended up wanting to save for my household was a children’s dvd for the kids. The rest of the stuff I decided to take home to donate to a partner agency.

Here’s the swag I’m donating this week:


  • (30) reusable shopper bags – thanks to the BlogHer swag exchange, these will go to homeless moms, many of whom had to leave their homes with only the clothes on their backs. You cannot see all 30 bags as they are stuffed into other bags.
  • (2) pairs of flip flops – great to wear in shower at the homeless shelter
  • (3) notepads + pens – useful to write down appointments and information
  • (1) box of mints – portable personal hygiene
  • (2) pocket mirrors – portable personal hygiene
  • (1) large nail buffer/file – portable personal hygiene
  • (1) coupon for a free item at Micky D’s
  • (1) coupon for a free bag of chips
  • (1) sample of breakfast cereal
  • (1) pouch of baby food – convenient on the go, healthy food
  • (2) canisters of black tea – homeless shelter kitchen
  • (1) t shirt
  • (2) tubes of lotion – portable personal hygiene
  • (2) tubes of toothpaste – portable personal hygiene
  • (2) travel sized child’s herbal cold and cough medicine – portable medicine
  • (2) packs of salt water taffy – just in time for Halloween festivities at the homeless center
  • (2) travel shampoos and lotions (not pictured) – incredibly useful to families in transition

Our partner agency will pick up these items along with their normal diaper delivery, which makes me really happy that I lugged all this swag home. It was really fun thinking about swag in terms of what I could donate and if it would be useful to the families we serve.

Will you join me next year?

SoCal: #BlogHer11 Virtual Diaper Drive #hamo

This coming week some of the team will be at BlogHer ’11.

In case you haven’t heard, we’re hosting a service project to coincide with the conference, in hopes of raising much needed diaper funds we’d like to raise to benefit our Southern California families. Specifically, we have three agencies located in San Diego, Inland Empire, and east Los Angeles, who are currently on the waiting list to receive diapers.

Whether you are attending the conference or not, you can help us make a difference.

Bonus: We’re giving away an iPad, generously donated by our friends at Momversation, to one lucky online donor. And as of this writing, your chances look really good to win!

How you can help:

Spread the word about our virtual diaper drive. Official rules and more good stuff can be found via our event page.

Your online gift of $10 or more enters you to our iPad giveaway contest. Go ahead, click the BLUE button and help a mother out!

Tucson: Diaper Bank Beginnings

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis, founders of the nation’s first Diaper Bank, Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona formerly known as the Community Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona. I can only attempt to capture the enthusiasm and energy that they radiated in that meeting. Dimitri and Hildy are truly inspirational and it was an honor to have so much of their time. This is the first of several blog posts based upon the meeting.

It really is quite an ordinary strip mall office in mid-town Tucson. I’ve driven past it a thousand times and not given it a second thought. However, for the past 17 years or so the ideas hatching in that office have been far from ordinary and have had an extraordinary impact not only on the Tucson community, but communities across the country.

In 1994 the office was a realty business recently purchased by Hildy and Dimitri. Wanting to get back to the work that made a difference in the community, Hildy and Dimitri added consulting with local Native American tribes in sustainable, non-gaming development to their work. Nowhere in their business plan were diapers mentioned. Their work with diapers was not planned, just a bit of holiday giving gone wildly and wonderfully astray.

A couple days before Thanksgiving one of the staff members suggested that a donation of diapers to Casa de los Ninos, a local safe haven for children, might be a nice idea for the office’s charitable holiday donation. A week or so later that simple office donation had expanded into a diaper drive and then something much bigger. Rather than the typical exchanging of goods with their local business partners and fellow realtors Hildy and Dimitri sent out a message via their holiday card,

“Don’t give us _______. Give us a diaper.”

A little bit unorthodox, a little bit silly, but their partners and fellow realtors took to it and the diapers began to roll in. What if, they thought, we were to get a radio station in on this? Perhaps we could make it bigger still. They faxed all the local radio stations. Stone cold silence from most, a snicker from one, and then a peep, morning DJ Bobby Rich, at what was then Cloud FM, now MIX FM, called to say that this sounded like a good fit with Cloud. This sort of drive-by event wasn’t common back in ’94, but Bobby and his crew set up their equipment outside this small midtown office in the wee hours of the morning so that they could do the morning show and a diaper drive. It should be noted that 3 am in Tucson in December is cold, very cold, below freezing cold, so this was no small commitment. At the end of the first broadcast Bobby said “We’re in this for the long haul.” He meant it. Seventeen years later Bobby still does the diaper drive every December.

Hildy and Dimitri, along with their staff and Bobby Rich, collected over twenty thousand diapers that first drive in 1994. As the diapers rolled in so did the stories of impact. It became clear to Hildy and Dimitri that helping with this one basic need had a positive ripple effect: A parent may have received help with housing and job training, but if they have very young children they are often unable to take advantage of their job training; they can’t afford the disposable diapers that they have to leave at the childcare facility while they work. The inability to take an offered job is a devastating loss to families who are working hard to get back on their feet. The social safety net has a big gaping hole in it and its name is diapers. Help diaper a child and help a family escape poverty.

Next time: A Diaper Bank is Born and Lessons in Compassion

 

Photo courtesy of Creating the Future

Tucson Swap-O-Rama 3/12

Are you in the Tucson area the weekend of March 12th? Yes? Alrighty then. Get whatever gizmo you use to keep track of all that scheduling and type/write this down:

Saturday, March 12th
10am – 12pm
Swap-O-Rama
A Children’s Clothing Exchange and Diaper Drive

to benefit
Diaper Bank of Arizona.

Geneva Hall, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church
3809 East 3rd St.

Check out the Eventbrite page or the facebook page for the important details.

HAMO- AZ is partnering with a local preschool, St. Marks, to raise awareness and diapers, and to have a whole lot of fun. The event is inspired by the Tucson Mama Kid’s Clothing Swap of 2009. I should also mention that the Tucson Mama’s exchange inspired the Bay Area folk of Help a Mother Out last February to do the same thing to great success. Additional bonus: Tucson Mama is going to be joining us at Swap-O-Rama to lend her support and her cool factor to the whole shebang. I’m also excited to add that a wonderful local photographer, Melissa Haun, who has been a fabulous supporter in the past of our diaper drives, has volunteered her services to document the event.

Those from outside Tucson wondering on how you can get in on the whole cool diaper drive action? Check out Help A Mother Out’s suggestions here.

Photo courtesy of Julie Michelle