I’m so pleased to present this guest post by Julianna Blankenship, one of the Detroit Area Diaper Bank‘s early friends, supporters, advocates and connectors. I first saw the post when it came across my personal Facebook news feed from her personal Facebook account, and frankly, I got chills when I read it. It is also posted on her Tumblr page and I’m thrilled to re-post it here with her permission:
I firmly believe that the things we connect with emotionally are there for a purpose. Those desires are within us to meet the needs of those we meet during our time on earth because there is endless need all around us.
I’ve found my heart drawn to the plight of those without diapers. I had never thought of it before, but it’s such a basic need. And, to those without it, it can be the difference between success and failure, independence and dependence, thriving or abuse.
In my late teens, I worked in a child care center. Parents are required to bring a daily supply of diapers for their child in order to have them attend. A healthy daily diaper change for an infant requires between 5-8 diapers/day, while a toddler requires 3-5. Some parents struggled to keep their baby’s diaper supply stocked and my young mind always wondered why. “It’s only a few bucks,” I thought when I had to ask a struggling single mom, yet again, to bring more diapers. “What a lazy parent,” 18-year-old me thought.
A lack of diapers accompanies a host of other social issues. When a single mother is unable to provide diapers, the child cannot attend daycare, leading to lost income or even a lost job. A child in a wet diaper is miserable and inconsolable, which can lead to child abuse and shaken baby syndrome as a stressed parent is unable to quiet the child and the child is unable to sleep. Leaving a child in a used diaper can also lead to sores and infection. And, for a family with no health insurance, this means costly doctors visits. All for the need of a clean diaper.
As homes and jobs are lost in Michigan, the Detroit Area Diaper Bank has seen a surge in diaper needs as families who were once solidly middle class slip below the poverty line and money must be spent on food and shelter rather than diapers. Mothers have to scrape off the diaper and then rediaper the child in it because that one diaper must last a day or even 2 or 3. I know it’s uncomfortable to think about, but imagine the discomfort of the child in that diaper.
Many of these families live in urban areas that are under-served by grocery stores, so the family must buy diapers at the corner convenience store. Next time you’re in a 7/11, check out the price of a pack of diapers. A 10-pack will usually run about $6-$8, whereas at a grocery store, you could buy 3x or 4x that amount of diapers for the price.
The Detroit Area Diaper Bank was established a few years ago to help provide this basic dignity to people who are struggling in our area. I’ve worked with this organization for a little over a year now and I’m amazed at the tenacity shown by the DADB’s founder, Marybeth. She is a strong woman and a person of fortitude, who organizes the Diaper Bank on a solely volunteer basis. Enlisting the help of her husband and 3 young sons, her home and car are usually filled to the brim with diaper deliveries to local social service programs who distribute the donations.
It has been my goal to establish a support network in Oakland County for the Canton-based Diaper Bank. Working with Zion Christian Church, we’ve collected more than 11,000 diapers for the DADB and each one has been delivered to children, disabled individuals and senior citizens in need. Zion is planning another diaper drive soon and I would like to expand that diaper drive to include many more organizations in Oakland County.
I need your help. I want to talk to more organizations and arrange diaper drives. Can you provide me with a contact at your church, school or job? Message me! Can you talk to your boss about hosting a diaper drive? It won’t cost them a penny!
Many families have packs of diapers that their children outgrew – we can use those diapers. When an elderly family member has passed away, leaving a supply of adult diapers – we can use those diapers. When you see diapers on sale at the store, grab a pack – we need those diapers. If you have any questions, please message me. I’m happy to share any information I can.
Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” Providing a diaper to someone in need is the definition of “the least” we can do. The topic is gross, it’s primal and no one wants to talk about it, but it’s a need we all have and it’s a dignity we all deserve.