|Posted on May 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM||comments (0)|
The need for diaper support in my community, the greater Spokane area, and in fact the United States as a whole, has been an increasing topic in the media and blogs. One such recent article was an opinion piece that you can find here: www.cnn.com/2013/05/10/opinion/goldblum-diapers.
Its author is the same one who ellicited such a visceral response, from this then 14 year old boy, that I was inspired to found Inland NW Baby, Eastern Washington's first diaper bank. Joanne Goldblum has tirelessly continued to write and speak about, and inspire others to do something about the need for diaper support. She has educated many across the country about the impact on families when the basic needs of babies are not met.
When I read some the comments after this piece I realized that much education still needs to be done. For me the conversation should not be about cloth vs disposable, we offer both at INWB, but the fact that the need for help is very real. So many families have experienced job loss, major illness or other catastrophic event that has pushed them over the edge into financial distress. It is not our place to judge or decide which babies "deserve" help. Often times a hand up offered at the beginning of a family's struggle is all they need to get through a tough time and stop the downward spiral.
My family has first hand experience with this spiral. We were fortunate to have people arround us willing to lend a hand up so we could save our home and get back on our feet. It is not the reason I first got involved in providing diapers to local families, it did however reinforce just how much something so simple can mean to a struggling family. So let's stop railing about how broken the "system" is, and how people should not have kids if they can't take care of them, and all the other responses that overlook the point: babies need to have clean dry diapers. I ask you to join me in making sure that this basic need is met and not judge why the need exists.
|Posted on July 5, 2012 at 5:30 PM||comments (1)|
The need for diaper support does not garner attention like hunger or homelessness does but that does not mean that this need is not a critical need. Babies who do not get changed often enough can experience horrible diaper rash and other health issues - resulting in the little one crying more. An unconsolabe baby may There is also evidence that not getting changed in response to crying is part of a baby's emotional development and response. It is a basic need and needs to be met.
In Spokane there are at least 1,000 babies living in extreme poverty, which is a family of four with an income of under 10,000/year. Diapers cost an average of $80 to $100/month. This is at least 10% of their gross income! Many parents are finding themselves using makeshift diapers of toilet paper, rags, paper towels and even having to resort to reusing soiled diapers after they dry out. Other parents are having to choose not to eat themselves in order to diaper their baby.
By supporting your local diaper bank, donating diapers to the nearest food bank or other program that serves children you are helping to make sure that the basic need of babies is met.
|Posted on June 3, 2012 at 5:55 PM||comments (2)|
Inland NW Baby recently held its 3rd Stuff The Bus community diaper drive during which we gathered diapers and funds totalling nearly 50,000 diapers! How long will that last you is a question we have been asked a lot lately. The answer is not a simple one. If we add no additional programs from our waiting list or serve no additional children from our existing programs it will last us for about 9 months. But that is really not an option for us. We have many programs that would like to become diaper network distribution partners and we want to incerase the level of distribution of existing partners. So we continue to work to gather more diapers and hold more diaper drives.
The National Diaper Bank Network does an excellent job of detailing the level of need in our country in this recent blog entry: http://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/blog/so-how-many-diapers-do-we-need.
Diapers are not an option for babies. Thank you for your continued support as we work to provide this basic neccessity for babies in need in our Spokane and Inland NW community.
|Posted on May 9, 2012 at 7:05 PM||comments (2)|
Inland NW Baby has providing diapers as our number one priority. We continue to add more programs to our list of diaper distribution network members. Our goal is to grow and be able to support all the programs in the Greater Spokane area who distribute diapers. Currently we are focusing on the smaller programs who were not able to provide diapers to the families they served. Now they are able to do so.
We also supply other basic necessities like clothing, blankets, and hygiene items. These are not our primary focus but we make them available on a "as available basis". It seems like there is no end to the need in our community. There are always going to be teen parents who need support, families where the parents are unemployed, and those experiencing chronic poverty. It is for all of these families that we strive to make a difference.
|Posted on May 5, 2012 at 7:10 AM||comments (3)|
I must confess that even as passionate as I am about raising awareness in my community for the need for diaper support, that I have not thought about riding across the country to spread the word. Thankfully there is someone who is going to do just that. Beginning on July 8th Pastor Eric will begin his trek across the country with the goal to raise $250,000 dollars and national awareness.
The Tri CIties Diaper Bank is the 2nd diaper bank in Eastern Washington! You can learn more about them here: http://www.tricitiesdiaperbank.org
To learn more about what is happening on the national level you can contact The National Diaper Bank Network at: http://www.diaperbanknetwork.org/
|Posted on April 22, 2012 at 9:25 AM||comments (1)|
Recycling of used disposable diapers is not something that many consider an option. Terracycle wants to convince parents and community leaders that it is an option. Please read this article that explains how it works. Thank you to The National DIaper Bank Network for sharing this with us. http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/04/terracycle-convice-american-parents-recycle-dirty-diapers/comment-page-1/?goback=.gde_136568_member_107653015 ;
|Posted on January 20, 2012 at 1:45 AM||comments (0)|
Diapers - Our #1 priority! That is one of the flyers on our table top display. Recently a group of our core supporters met for a strategic planning meeting to discuss our mission and service delivery. The central point of the focus was how to reach the approximately 1,000 babies living in extreme poverty in our community. They may not be connected to any agency or program. We need to find a way to make sure they are getting their needs met.
A decision was reached by the group to refine our service group to children under the age of 5 and to begin a strong outreach program to identify these families. I like the direction we are headed - a focused effort to care for those most vulnerable and needy. I really can't wait to see what 2012 brings for Inland NW Baby! It is because of the community support we receive that we are able to have such an impact. Therefore I feel comfortable saying that we have become a "for impact" organization.
Inland NW Baby - changing the way poverty impacts babies in our community.
|Posted on October 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
Often times when I am asked how do we know that the families Inland NW Baby provides support for are really in need I struggle how to answer the question. Do I answer it with the short answer of: All of the families we support have been identified as being in need by a case worker, family services coordinator or other advocate by one of our agency partners.
That answer does not really provide the whole story. So I would like to take a moment to paint you a picture of what our "families" look like.
Imagine coming to Spokane to visit your mother whose health is not good. You are pregnant with your first child and you have traveled all the way from the Mid-West. You are about 28 weeks along in your pregnancy and the doctor says you need to travel now or wait until after the baby is born. You arrive excited to share this time and then without warning you go into labor. You are rushed to the hospital and the doctors are unable to stop your labor and you deliver a very tiny baby. You are told that the baby will have to stay in the NICU for at least 8 weeks and even then it will be too small for all the clothes you have been given. The social worker at Deaconess contacts Inland NW Baby who is able to provide a complete preemie layette including diapers.
No one questions that economic times are tough right now. Some families have been hit harder than others like the family that lives in a nice suburban neighborhood with their 4 children, dog and cat. Both parents have lost their good paying jobs in their career fields and now find themselves working for little more than minimum wage. This family had no funds for school clothes and supplies, and diapers. Because of the help they received they were able to still make their mortgage payment and hold on to their home. What we don't need in this community is another homeless family and house going into foreclosure. Just a little bit helps prevent that from happening.
What about the young teen parents who are wanting to finish their high school education but have no family to support them while they do so. Inland NW Baby provided clothes and diapers to many of these young parents in the 2010-2011 school year. Of those we supported, 22 of them made it through to graduation!
There is no typical family picture that we support with clothes, diapers, toys and equipment. They are from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and can live in Spokane, Kootenai and Stevens Counties. What they have in common is that they need a temporary hand up. They need to know that someone cares about their struggle.
When asked what Inland NW Baby provides to this community we have a list of tangible items. I think it is time we add hope to the list.
|Posted on July 30, 2011 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
When I am out in the community speaking about Inland NW Baby and I say that we are the only diaper and clothing bank in the area, I can see some confusion on the faces of many of the listeners. So I go on to clarify that what makes us different is that we supply other programs and agencies with the basic needs for children like clothing, hygiene items and especially diapers, rather than direct to families. This allows us to focus more energy on procuring the needed items.
There are many great programs in the Spokane area that provide these items for those who visit their agency or organization - CAPA, Our Place, Vanessa Beehan, Valley Partners and Mission Community Outreach to name a few. The demand for help from struggling families is huge. Requests for services are increasing by double digits.
It is the mission of Inland NW Baby to raise awareness of the need and to help supply the agencies and programs who are directly serving the families in our community. We do this by individual referral and by bulk drops of clothes and diapers. We are able to serve children who might not otherwise be served by working with social workers in the outlying rural areas. We can also lighten the load on the other programs in our area by providing them with another resource for the basics that children need.
In a few days we will have been distributing in Spokane for one full year. Our numbers are significant for such a young organization - over 25,000 diapers and 1200 children have been served, but a drop in the bucket of the total need.
We are an all volunteer donation driven nonprofit. When you clean out your closets please consider donating your clean gently used clothing to Inland NW Baby. Consider hosting a diaper drive in place of birthday presents, or volunteering a few hours to help package items for a child in need. We, and they, are very grateful for the community support we receive.
|Posted on July 18, 2011 at 2:21 PM||comments (2)|
Is it possible for one person, who is not yet legally anadult, to identify a need in their community and do something about it? After all, I am only fifteen and a guy. What could I bring to the table to makeanyone listen to me about the need for a diaper bank in Spokane?
All of these questions were racing through my head on my way back from hearing a retired social worker speak on the lack of resourcesavailable for families struggling financially to diaper their children. Our country provides food for children through the Women, Infant and Children program (WIC) but no funding exists at the local, state or national level for diapers, wipes or any hygiene items. A recent study showed that 1 in 3 families isexperiencing difficulty affording diapers and many are having to make tough choices such as whether to feed themselves or diaper their child.
Something about this tugged at my heart and made me very uncomfortable. I had researched the support available in Spokane and discovered that there are a few programs that provide a limited diaper assistance of 10 or so per child per month, a couple of days worth of diapers. I had read articles about babies being changed so infrequently as to have terrible rash,and about mom’s having to make do with towels, rags or worse rinsing off soiled diapers and putting them back on their baby.
I looked at my mom and said, “I can do something about this. I NEED to do something about this! I can start a diaper bank just like Westside Baby in Seattle that will supply the basic needs of children – clothes, diapers, and hygiene items like toothbrushes, shampoo and soap.” By the end of our 5 hour car ride home, Inland NW Baby – helping hands for the basic needs of children was born. This was February 2010.
After countless hours of legal steps, organizing andgathering donations, and appealing for community support, it was time to begin distributing to needy families in August, 2010. Since that date Inland NW Baby has distributed almost 20,000 diapers andserved over 1,200 children in Spokane, Kootenai and Stevens County. The last few weeks of April and May saw over 100 children served each week.
From the very beginning I have been told how amazing it isthat I had this desire to reach outside of myself and help others, especiallystarting a nonprofit that distributes diapers. I have often wondered if it is amazing because I am a teenager, becauseI am a boy, or if it is because I made a choice to do something about a need in my community.
I recently spoke to a group of 5th grade studentswho had just planned and executed a very successful clothing drive for InlandNW Baby. I shared with them my feelingthat we are all given the skills, talents and drive to make a difference in our world. We just need to listen to that inner voice that guides us to our passions, whatever they may be. I told them they were well on their way to changing their community by the work they had done with the clothing drive. They had generated community involvement and strong support for their cause, Inland NW Baby. That is exactly what I do every day. My personal motto is: (no matter what your age) Be the change you want to see in the world. (Gandhi)
Written by: Jesse Sheldon sixteen year old founder of Inland NW Baby. To learn more, volunteer, or donate please visit www.inlandnwbaby.org.
This article is in the June/July issue of Spokane Family Magazine.