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.

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.


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.


Anat Shenker, ASO Communications


  • 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’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 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. 


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

A.B. 1516 – The Diaper Act of 2014

Update July 15, 2014: Next hearing is scheduled for Monday, August 4th at 10am, before the CA Senate Appropriations Committee.

Update May 28, 2014: AB1516 passed the Assembly floor today 53-19. The bill will now move onto the State Senate. 

Update May 23, 2014: The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved AB 1516 and the bill will move onto the Assembly floor for vote. THANK YOU to all of our supporters for your advocacy, as well as the Safety Net team at the Women’s Policy Institute. Special thanks to Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez for authoring this legislation, as well as Appropriations Chair, Assembly Member Mike Gatto and all committee members who supported the bill!! 

Update April 9, 2014: The Assembly Human Services committee approved AB 1516 and the bill will move onto the Assembly Appropriations committee. We will be providing tools and ideas on how you can help support this important bill in the future. Thanks to all our friends for supporting our mission! 

It’s a big week for California babies at the State Capitol. For the first time ever, diaper need will be formally discussed. Kind of a big deal around these parts!

Assembly Bill 1516, introduced by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-80, San Diego), would make two significant changes to the California Welfare and Institutions Code:

  • An amendment to the Welfare-to-Work Article would provide an additional $80 monthly supplement for children 0-2 years, who are living in CalWORKs-assisted households. This supplemental income could be used by parents to help meet their children’s basic needs, including diapers and formula.
  • Creation of a new program, the Unmet Diaper Need Financing Fund, would provide financial resources to social service agencies for the purpose of helping to meet the diaper needs of the communities they serve. Agencies that work in largely impoverished communities could qualify for financial assistance to be used to help families gain accessibility to clean diapers.

We are excited AB 1516 has been introduced and is up for consideration, as its passage would have a tremendous impact on the families that we work to serve. We’re currently organizing our efforts to show support for AB 1516 and let our legislators know how important the issue of diaper accessibility is to low income families of California.

The first hearing to consider AB 1516 is this Tuesday, April 8th in front of the Human Services Committee at the State Capitol in Sacramento. We are organizing a small delegation to attend the hearing to show support, and Lisa Truong, our Founder and Executive Director, will testify in front of the committee.

This is a great opportunity for us to let the California State Assembly know that diaper need is a real and significant issue in our communities. If you are interested in showing your support, you can contact your Assembly Member to tell them that you support #AB1516. If you need to look up your Assembly Member, you can do so HERE.

We’ll be sure to post updates following the hearing on Tuesday, and we’ll continue to let you know of important legislative action items.

Read our letter of support here.

#GiveCheeksAChance on #GivingTuesday and through December

My youngest son was 9 months old when we started HAMO – talk about timing. Tired of Great Recession news, and with a little Oprah inspiration, a friend and I decided to take action in our community after learning that diapers were forgotten in the safety net. With your help we’ve been able to move mountains and change lives of women and children living in the margins of our society. On #GivingTuesday I’m sharing “Sheila’s” story with you.

Sheila was referred to one of our community partners after she found herself pregnant and homeless. Having grown up in foster care, she has no family support. Sheila began to see Lucy, a social worker from the department of public health. During one of their very first visits together, Lucy brought diapers for Sheila’s newborn baby “Michael.” As Lucy told me, “Those diapers sealed the deal, and showed her that she could trust me. Those diapers brought her hope when she had none.” Since those first visits, the pair have continued to work together and Sheila has accomplished so much. She was able to secure transitional housing and works the evening shift at Walmart, while her partner cares for the baby. She still has a tremendous hill to climb. But just about every other week she can look forward to Lucy knocking on her door, bringing hope in a little package.

In the coming year our goals include helping more moms like Sheila. Here are a few ways you can help us on #GivingTuesday through December 31st:

  • Help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $10,000. We will use these funds to leverage bulk-purchasing opportunities and support our program. Click here to make your gift. If you recently made a year-end gift – THANK YOU AGAIN! Skip to #2;
  • Forward this post to 10 of your friends with a personal note telling friends why you give back through HAMO. Encourage them to do good with you and match your gift. Whether it’s $500, $150, $50, or $10… every dollar hollers.
  • Give us a social media shout out on #GivingTuesday. We’ve drafted up a sample tweet/status update for you at the end of this email.

Access to diapers impacts big things: Mothers are less prone to depression, young children feel clean and dry, and social workers are provided with a valuable gateway towards cultivating deeper relationships with clients.

Friends, thank you for living your values and supporting our work. Ninety-percent of our support comes from individuals like you. Thanks for doing good with us.

Gratefully yours,


Lisa Truong, on behalf of the entire HAMO crew

UCLA panel explores child poverty – Sept 10, 2013

We are excited to attend an upcoming discussion, sponsored by our colleagues at LA Diaper Drive and the National Diaper Bank Network, with a panel of experts on the effects of child poverty. This is an great step towards spreading awareness of the needs of low-income moms and children.

LOS ANGELES – A panel featuring experts from law, health care and social services will examine how often children’s basic needs go unmet and the long-term consequences of that deficit, on Tuesday, September 10, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the UCLA School of Nursing, Factor Building, Moseley Auditorium.

One in five American children is growing up in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Research has repeatedly documented health and educational disadvantages that follow these children for a lifetime. “Extreme poverty,” individuals living on $2 per day, has grown to engulf 1.65 million households, according to the National Poverty Center.

The panelists will include:

Megan Aubrey: vice president of development at Children’s Institute, Inc., a non-profit serving more than 20,000 vulnerable children and families in Los Angeles County and a agency that distributes diapers with LA Diaper Drive.

Jessica Bartholow: a legislative advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty with over a decade of experience in anti-poverty organizing, advocacy and program development at the local, state and national level.

Joanne Goldblum: executive director of the National Diaper Network, which supports community-based organizations nationwide that provide diapers to the 30 percent of low-income families who cannot afford them.

Angela Hudson: assistant professor of nursing at UCLA where she teaches maternity-newborn nursing. Her research focuses on prevention and health promotion with at-risk youth.

This event is co-sponsored by LA Diaper DriveThe National Diaper Bank Network and the UCLA School of Nursing.

Yale Study: Low-income moms can’t afford diapers, mental health suffers


A recent study published by Pediatrics  finds that 30% of mothers (from a sample of almost 900 in the New Haven, CT area) struggle to afford an adequate supply of clean diapers for their babies.

This is not news to us, of course. We are always accepting donations big and small, but our supply is never enough. There are so many people in need that it is difficult to keep up.

A key message in the article is that diaper need can be used to measure risk to infants’ health, and suggests that physicians may screen families by asking about diaper need and then referring them to local diaper banks or distribution networks.

For families who are financially struggling, health care professionals and researchers should recognize not only food and housing but also diapers as basic needs.

This study represents a milestone in the national movement to address diaper need. There have been countless studies that have addressed hunger and children’s nutrition. We think this issue is just as crucial and invite you to join us in helping the women and children we serve.

Do you want to change lives? Join us and make a gift today.

While the study is valuable for its ability to bring attention to diaper need, let us not forget that the issue is not just a statistic. There are real people suffering from this problem. Watch this short video about a brave young mom who got the boost she needed with the help of diaper donations from YOU.

Children living in poverty – stats by state

Did you know that 23% of children in the US are living in poverty?

So over 16.837 million children under 18  years old live in families with annual income below $22,811 in 2011.

Based on analysis of the US Census, the Annie E. Casey foundation has posted statistics by state for 2007-2011 on their data center.

Looking at how California measures up to the other states:

  • In 2011, California ranked the highest with over 2 million children living in poverty increasing each year from 1.5 million in 2007. Texas and Florida take the 2nd and 3rd ranking with 1.829 million and 980,000 respectively.
  • New York ranks the highest with 521,000 children in poverty but Los Angeles ranks 2nd with276,000.
  • The median income for California is $59,100 and Texas is $52,300. But CA’s higher cost of living is approximately 10% higher than Texas.

These stats indicate the need for heightened awareness of income disparities. Food and diaper deserts are increasingly found in low-income neighborhoods. Continued efforts to address inequalities of access to basic needs are essential for the large (and growing) number of children and families living in poverty.

How does your state stack up? Are you surprised?

Birth Control more expensive for Low-Income families

Our friends at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsrecently published a study that found that prescription contraceptives are more expensive in low-income zipcodes than in wealthier areas. Cost is a leading barrier to access to birth control and contributes to unintended pregnancy rates.

Low income families are also challenged by the cost of diapers and food deserts. Diapers cost an average of $75 to $100 a month, not to mention all the other expenses for a child! Limited or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables adds to the fact that basic health needs are not met. All of these issues compound the challenges that low-income families have to fight against.

Now we see from this study that yet another significant hurdle exists for homeless and low-income mothers: inequality of access to birth control.

Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, vice chair of clinical research at Washington University in St. Louis Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, responds in the Huffington Post:

“The big question is why don’t we, in the U.S., level the playing field so all women can have equal access to no-cost contraception? Why should we have any inequalities at all?”

How is it that lower-income families may have to pay more for birth control? Have you ever been in a position to need help accessing birth control?

Small Things = Big Impact

The other day I had the opportunity to speak with a social worker, whom I will call Shannon. She visits clients in their home and works closely with caregivers – many of them isolated new mothers who are just learning the basics in caring for their baby. Shannon told me she couldn’t count how many times her clients’ eyes welled up with tears, after she knocked on their door, holding a pack of diapers.  I wish you could have heard Shannon — talking about the families she serves and about how something as small as diapers can have such a great impact in the daily life of a family in need.

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa

The power of small is alive and well. When we started Help A Mother Out, we took $100 of our own money and coupled it with countless small acts from a great number of people (including you) and it turned into something greater than we ever expected.  This week we hit the 900K diaper distribution mark. It’s really hard to believe that so many small acts of kindness can add up to nearly one million diapers. And here we are.

We are so incredibly grateful to be the conduit of the community’s kindness and we’re very much looking forward to continuing to grow Help A Mother Out; one diaper at a time, one family at a time.

Want to do something small? Start here:

1) Take the pledge to Help A Mother Out

It costs you nothing, but by taking the pledge, you are saying yes to the power of small and taking a stand when it comes to diaper need. We are only strong in numbers and we’d love to count your pledge in.

2) Help us get the word out

In the beginning, we had nothing but a blog and the desire to tell all of our friends about this project. If it wasn’t for the power of good old fashioned word of mouth, we would not be here today. You can help by telling your friends about diaper need. Start here by sharing this infographic.

3) Commit to hosting (or participating in) a fundraiser or diaper drive

Small amounts add up big, and we would be honored with your help to run our programs. Just a few ideas culled from previous supporters:

  1. Kelly hosts a popular clothing swap amongst her friends every year. A few years ago she decided to charge a small cover ($20) and each year raises $300 on our behalf.
  2. Xavier, hosts a free car show every year. Last year his team sold special issue t-shirts with the proceeds benefiting great causes – one of them being Help A Mother Out.
  3. Allie decided to commemorate her baby boy’s first Valentine’s Day by hosting a diaper drive on our behalf. She got out the word to all her friends and family and simply asked them to donate diapers in his honor. She raised 7K diapers!

If each of us commits to doing a little, we can add up to something great.

What are your ideas for doing something small?

Photo via National Archives on Flickr.

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

Join Diaper Action Week Nov 14-18 #DiaperAct

It’s hard for many of us to imagine, but not being able to afford enough diapers can be a real barrier to working families who have limited childcare options. The #DiaperAct asks for NO additional federal funds, but would make a practical difference in the lives of many working families.

Help us send a clear message to members of Congress that the #DiaperAct is real change from the bottom up! This week we are asking friends to help us reach 25K petition signatures. Thank you for join us!

Just the Facts, Ma’am:

  • The DIAPER Act asks for NO additional federal funding
  • Lack of diapers can result in (1) major health consequences and (2) a barrier to employment
  • If Congress enacts the DIAPER ACT, eligible child care centers would have the flexibility and choice to provide diapers (disposable or cloth) to their neediest clients.

Here is just one example of why we need this legislation passed.

Join Diaper Action Week:

– Sign our online petition, if you have not already
– POST on your blog during the week of November 14-18
– USE the tools we have on our site, including the petition widget, talking points, and helpful information
– URGE your readers to click the widget and sign the petition
– LINK up to the hub post below

TWEET or post on FACEBOOK during Diaper Action Week to call attention to our campaign, using #DiaperAct. Mobile users: click here for our mobile friendly petition.

How To Help #hamo

If you knew that you could help a struggling family provide basic necessities for their children, would you? Here are three ways you can make an impact this holiday season.

Dear Friends,

With less than two months left for 2011 we are in the process of making plans for 2012. Our board meets at the end of this month to solidify our 2012 goals, which I’m personally very excited about. HAMO is growing up! We have all of YOU to thank for helping us accomplish so much since March, 2009 – when we weren’t even thinking about starting anything other than a small diaper drive.

It’s been a jam packed year getting diapers to families who need them (nearly 750K diapers  since inception!), and getting our feet wet with advocacy work that is equally important to addressing diaper need. There is so much more work to be done in order to enable us to continue making an impact.

In the coming weeks we will be rolling out our year-end giving campaign, but we know that many of you are already asking us what you can do to help us ring in 2012 with a big bang. Here are some ideas for you …

1) Make plans for a year end gift

Help us “keep the lights on,” so to speak by sending your monetary gift before December 31st. Your year end gift will make your accountant happy, and we guarantee you will feel like a fairy godmother (or father) after you invest in making real difference with our families. Also, check with your employer to see if they will match your gift! We also have swell and festive e-cards we can send to your honoree! Click the blue button for more information.
2) Host or participate in a diaper drive

Yes, toys and food are wonderful to donate and we have nothing but love for our local food bank and Toys for Tots efforts. When you are at the big box store, stop by the baby aisle and pick up a pack or case of diapers for HAMO, or your local diaper bank, food bank, or pantry. When you shop online, order diapers to be sent to your doorstep! Or to our doorstep! One of our favorite volunteers, Sara, will be hosting her 3rd annual diaper drive/holiday party this year and we cannot tell you how much joy and hope this brings to our families. And her guests really look forward to a fun night. Start a tradition! Here are some tools you can use.

3) Donate a photo to support the #DiaperAct

We are still collecting photos to add to our Flickr pool. Consider adding your #DiaperAct photo to our collection. Make Aunt Gladys hold the sign for the photo op. Make a sign, snap the photo, and fill our inbox with love by sending us your digital photo (

We would not be able to accomplish this crucial work without your continued partnership. Thank you so much for continuing to make a difference with our families!

Photo via Creative Commons 2.0:  rumpleteaser

Women Veterans, Long Neglected

In honor of Veterans Day, we are publishing a guest post by veteran and advocate Dottie Guy. Thank you to Dottie and all of our veterans for your service.

This year on Veterans Day, the focus is on a demographic of vets that have long been neglected: women veterans.

As a member of the Army National Guard, I went to Iraq in 2003 and prior to that, I was deployed for Homeland Security immediately after the attacks on September 11, 2001.  My job was military police and it was an experience that I will never forget.

War has changed quite a bit. Women are now on the front lines and we perform duties that we never would be allowed to perform just a short time ago.

I always felt that being a woman in the military meant I had to be stronger. I felt the need to hold my own in this boys club. I ran injured, I took a lot of crap from men who didn’t think I would be able to hack it, and I kept quiet about my pain because I didn’t want to come across as weak.

I am no longer in the military, but I have carried this mentality with me. I have to deal with a system that is ill-equipped to handle the record numbers of women veterans that are coming home from Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts that the military in involved in. The rate of military sexual trauma (MST) for women is disproportionally high (according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1 in 5 women responded “yes” when screened for MST) and deeply troublesome…and only a fraction gets reported or treated.

We also have to deal with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other combat-related mental health disorders in unique ways. In talking to mental health specialists, they find that women don’t report this as often because a lot of times, they of the feeling that we often put on a front and internalize our very real issues. The word “crazy” is often thrown around about women in emotional states and I feel that we aren’t taken as seriously. In the midst of a panic attack, I had a psychologist tell me “Imagine what I would be like without medication.” I promptly walked out of her office.

There are a lot of other issues that face women and all other vets such as unemployment (it’s currently at 12.1%), suicide (32 veterans attempt suicide daily. 18 succeed), and homelessness. There is a lot to be desired of our treatment of vets. Women vets are coming home to system that is ill equipped to handle them.

Fortunately, these issues are being addressed. The VA has a special clinic for women veterans. More people are being made aware of our issues and struggles. There is more work to be done, but this is a push in the right direction.

For more information on veteran’s issues (with details on the unique issues that women face), please visit Operation Recovery.

Dottie Guy is currently serving on the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission. She was in the Army and served in Iraq in 2003. She is passionate about veterans issues; she wants to ensure that they get the treatment and care that they earned.

Dottie is also a photographer. She has shown her work in throughout the United States and is a Getty Images contributor.

When she isn’t out taking photos or helping veterans, Dottie can be found enjoying fried chicken, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Tom Jones.

Veterans Day posters via Iraq Veterans Against the War.

A Tale from the Central Valley

We receive a lot of emails from moms across the country, telling us about what they see in their own towns. This is an excerpt, published with permission, from a recent email written to us by a Central Valley mom. The Central Valley is known as America’s bread basket, and yet so many very hard working families are unable to provide the most basic of needs for their children. This is another way the Great Recession we are currently living in mirrors the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I wanted to share this with you all, because while the pundits and economist might argue whether or not we are still in a recession, this story exemplifies to me that we are still very much in it. The need still exists and will not be going away anytime soon.

… Cities in the Central Valley are hurting, and badly. Unemployment in this area is about 16%. Mom’s (I have not had to resort to this Thank GOD) leave their babies in the same diaper for hours on end so that they “SAVE” on diapers. I know this from the complaints about the inferior diapers (Parent’s Pride, Walmart) that the Pregnancy Help Center gives out. It is NOT that the diapers are bad, it’s Parents who have so little are keeping wet diapers on their babies bottoms too long. Much help is needed in the Stockton, Modesto, and Manteca area… someday I would hope that there is a place to help out Mom’s in EVERY city. We all need to help each other out in these horrible economic times! I am doing my part… Thank you ALL for everything you do.
— Struggling Central Valley mom of baby girl

Now more than ever, ordinary citizens need to come together to help one another. In small towns, and big cities alike. I don’t have the answer for how we can start to address diaper need in severely economically depressed areas like the Central Valley. I do think that bringing these stories to public awareness is a crucial step. A big dream of ours is to be able to do more in hard hit regions.  However this comes into being, it is my hope that you all will want to help us do just that.

The James Irvine Foundation published an excellent report on regional disparities in California. I suspect that individual giving in California mirrors that of foundation giving, in that philanthropic resources tend to stay within the same region (e.g., Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan areas).

Iconic photo of Florence Owens Thompson by Dorothea Lange