Today, April 12th, marks 5 years since I launched the Detroit Area Diaper Bank.
I knew on that day in 2009 that Metro Detroit needed a diaper bank, that the diaper issue needed to be brought forward and people made aware of the need, but what I couldn’t have imagined on that day is how our community would respond.
SO MUCH generosity, enthusiasm, and compassion! You, our donors and supporters, have helped us collect and distribute almost 2 million diapers to help our neighbors in need over the past 5 years – that’s absolutely amazing. And I hope you will continue your enthusiasm for the issue and remember that this need never goes away. Nonprofits all across the area continue their good works and need your support.
Things are beginning to accelerate toward our move date, so I’m considering today the technical “close” date for DADB. I have one more distribution of adult diapers coming up and then our resources will finally be exhausted. These past 5 years have been beyond fulfilling, an experience I will carry with me always – thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Sometimes the New Year really brings THE NEW.
A surprising development came up for my family this new year – we’re moving to Mexico City! While not something we saw coming, we’re excited for the opportunity.
So what does this mean for the Diaper Bank?
As soon as the word came down from my husband’s company that the Mexico move was definitely happening, I started giving thought to how the work I’ve been doing can continue, how our nonprofit partners can continue bringing in diapers for the families they work with, and how they can continue beating the drum about diaper need across Metro Detroit. One thing DADB has proven over the last almost-five years is that when the diaper issue is raised, made a focus, and explained – especially specifying that there is NO support for diapers from WIC, Food Stamps or Medicare — and then you ask the community to help, MANY respond. While “diapers” sat on nonprofit organizations’ wish lists across Metro Detroit for years and years, there hadn’t been concerted effort to tell people WHY diapers are such a big need and how they’re a chronically unmet basic need for our youngest and oldest neighbors. When informed about the issue, most people “get it” – not all, but a lot do. And the incredible support and donor base we’ve grown since 2009 is evidence of that. I have been continually blown away by the response from our community and I want to give our donors and supporters places they can go to continue giving in this unique and much-needed way after I’ve gone.
So I’ve been working with our nonprofit partners to brand and engage their own diaper pantries/banks so we can connect community organizations and donors directly to them — we’re essentially “de-centralizing” the Detroit Area Diaper Bank and moving the focus back to the nonprofits themselves. My hope is that the nonprofits can continue highlighting the need and capitalizing on the momentum DADB’s created. Just as they work to get people on their feet and independent with information, resources and support, we are providing them with all of the information and tools that have worked for us and encouraging them to take ownership over this issue, become independent and able to bring diapers in themselves, and continue educating and advocating around the community about diaper need. I have certainly learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work since DADB launched in April 2009 and I think a lot of our lessons, success and momentum can be transitioned to our partner organizations. I will continue distributing the resources we have on hand and spend down what we have in the bank to buy diapers and continue supplying our partners over the next few months while helping them get their internal efforts up and running.
An example of one of our partners working hard to get their own pantry going is Hope Clinic, based in Washtenaw County and also serving Wayne County. Hope Clinic has been an active recipient partner of the Diaper Bank for years, knows how important diapers are to its clients, and is eager to get its own pantry up and running. I’ve already been able to connect two organizations in Washtenaw County that wanted to run diaper drives for DADB with them and they’re taking over one of our diaper donation drop-off locations.
This is our vision going forward – the next phase of addressing diaper need in Metro Detroit and hopefully the legacy of the Detroit Area Diaper Bank – donors and organizations that care about diaper need connecting directly to nonprofits, and nonprofits that have set themselves up to receive and attract ongoing donations and are connecting with and being found by donors.
Many of our nonprofit partners are still in the process of working through the information I’ve supplied and seeing what they can do internally — once they are ready to “go live”, I will transition our website, which I will keep up for at least a year or two, into a locator of diaper pantries and local nonprofits that need diapers, so keep an eye out for that and I will also share links through social media, our newsletter, and email. We have stopped accepting donations, but there’s still an accessible link to our Partner page on our website that will allow donors to connect with partner nonprofits until the more specific diaper pantry info is made available.
We still have work to do over the next few months as there are still diapers to distribute and partners working to get pantries set up, so you will still hear from DADB, but the message will be more about our partner nonprofits and their efforts and needs. There are also many, many, MANY thanks I need to bestow but I can’t even begin to think about that just yet, that will have to be its own post further down the road. But I do want to say a general and very heartfelt thank you to everyone who has believed, encouraged, and supported me along the way on the journey that has been the Detroit Area Diaper Bank, it would not still be here without the generous, compassionate embrace we’ve received from our amazing community. I’m counting on everyone to continue caring, engaging, talking, or shouting, if need be, about the diaper issue and working together to continue making a difference with diapers in Metro Detroit!
Thank you. Gracias. Now, back to work.
It’s been an amazing few weeks of media exposure for the Detroit Area Diaper Bank and at the perfect time, just as we launched our 5th Annual Fall Diaper Drive! In case anyone missed any of our recent coverage, here are the highlights:
Such fantastic exposure! We’re so grateful for all of the opportunities. And the launch of our 5th Annual Fall Diaper Drive undoubtedly benefitted, as we crossed the 10% mark of our big fall goal in the first week!
As we reach the mid-point of July, summer reminders are everywhere – it’s hot, the splash parks are crowded, vacations are what we’re prepping for or recovering from, and the kids are starting to get stir crazy.
But soon enough, “Back to School” ads will be all over the TV and radio, and that means the Detroit Area Diaper Bank‘s Annual Fall Diaper Drive will be launching!
This will be the Diaper Bank’s FIFTH Annual Fall Diaper Drive – it’s hard to believe time has flown by so fast since the first drive in 2009! The fall drive helps drive donations into the Diaper Bank so it can fulfill more partner agencies’ families’ needs and help through the holidays and start of the new year, when donations tend to slow down.
Keep an eye out for our launch announcement and details about the drive and events this fall, but it’s never too early to start planning how YOU can help make sure the Diaper Bank makes its big fall goal by Thanksgiving 2013. Can you, your family, your office/company, your community organization or place of worship run a diaper drive or fundraiser to support the Detroit Area Diaper Bank?
Please start making plans and spreading the word, the Diaper Bank can only succeed with the help of an engaged and supportive community. Our community has helped the Diaper Bank collect and distribute close to 1.7 million diapers and incontinence supplies to more than 60 nonprofits and state agencies serving our neediest neighbors across Southeast Michigan since 2009 – we need your help to continue making this very real difference with diapers across Metro Detroit!
Enjoy the rest of your summer and get excited for this year’s big Fall Drive!
A school social worker put an emergency call into one of our recipient partners, a local Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
A severely disabled 11-year-old boy is in their programs and his low-income parents are having trouble keeping him in a supply of adult-size Large diapers. Diapers are an ongoing and crushing expense for this family, this is a child that has never been out of diapers and will never potty train.
This is the gap a community Diaper Bank can help fill. Parents of a severely disabled child already have so much on their plate, keeping him clean with a healthy supply of diapers is an emotional and financial stressor we can try to help alleviate through our nonprofit partner. We were able to get a supply to our partner who got them to the social worker the next day.
Thank you for helping us make this very real difference with diapers.
The Detroit Area Diaper Bank is pleased to welcome Jessica Roland on board to lead an exciting new project, a recycling program for diaper and wipes packaging as part of the TerraCycle Huggies Brand Brigade®.
Every year, millions of pieces of plastic diaper and wipes packaging end up in the garbage and then landfills. As an eco-friendly innovator, TerraCycle can convert plastic waste diaper and wipes packaging into unique products. The Detroit Area Diaper Bank is now an official collection location for the new diaper and wipes packaging recycling brigade, so each approved plastic diaper or wipes packaging we send in — ANY brand, ANY size, baby through adult — is worth a $.02 donation to The Detroit Area Diaper Bank!
The Diaper Bank is going to work with its recipient partners to reclaim as much packaging from the diapers we distribute to them as possible, it’s a great opportunity for the organizations we support and the families they support to support us in return. We’ll also welcome donations from across the community, and look forward to opportunities to build new relationships with individuals, organizations and businesses as we offer the opportunity to recycle their diaper and wipes packaging and ask for their ongoing support for the Diaper Bank through this unique program.
We’re excited to have Jessica as our TerraCycle Brigade Leader, she’s a great fit for the Diaper Bank, she has vision, big ideas and the skills to see things through and make things happen. A mother of two, she lives in Canton with her husband Chris, has worked in the nonprofit sector previously and has been an active member and leader of numerous community-focused organizations including Canton Area Moms 4 Community, the Canton Newcomers Club and her children’s school PTO.
Jessica is a doer and we like doers at the Detroit Area Diaper Bank! Welcome, Jessica! Thanks for taking the lead on this project and helping the Diaper Bank continue to grow and make a difference across Metro Detroit!
Visit our website page about our new TerraCycle recycling project here.
As I got ready to check out from a quick, basic stop at the grocery store, it struck me how many items in my cart I wouldn’t be able to purchase if I only had food stamps to pay with, like so many of our neediest neighbors:
…and various other sundries that help me run our household. But what really struck me is how many cleanliness-related items I wouldn’t have in my cart:
Yes, I would still have food in my cart and I would be able to feed my kids that night, thank goodness. But it’s important to remember that just because a family can shop at a grocery store with the help of food stamps doesn’t mean they can get everything they need.
As a Diaper Bank, we focus on diapers as a basic hygiene need and one that is not paid for or provided by any federal assistance program, not WIC, Food Stamps or Medicare. But there’s no ignoring the fact that NO hygiene needs are covered by these assistance programs, and it’s a larger conversation that needs to be had.
We expect kids to show up clean and healthy for school and perform as well as other kids, regardless of what they’re dealing with at home. We tell parents to go make a good impression in that interview and get that job. But when people don’t have access to basic hygiene items at home to keep them clean and healthy, they can’t compete on an even playing field. They don’t feel good, they don’t look good, they may not even smell good and it DOES affect them – their self-worth is diminished, they are more self-conscious, they feel shame and embarrassment. It will affect their performance at school and at work – if they make it to/through that interview. Do we think a kid that has to use fast-food napkins at home for toilet paper DOESN’T know he’s different?
We know SNAP (food stamps) is a program under the Department of Agriculture. We get that the likelihood of food stamps ever being stretched to cover non-food items is zip to nil under the USDA. But with technology today, how is it not possible to make an additional subsidy (through the Department of Health and Human Services?) available to families using food stamps to purchase basic hygiene supplies? Barcode technology should make it possible to limit what can be bought to hygiene basics. Hyperbolic howls about “entitlements!” are sure to rise, but a realistic conversation has to be had about what people NEED to get by in America – to get that job, to feel confident at school, to succeed and be independent – besides just food, clothing and housing.
As long as the gaping hole in the safety net exists that doesn’t allow struggling families to have access to basic hygiene items – soap, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and yes, DIAPERS – things needed to compete, to be independent, to “fit in” and “be normal” by today’s social mores, those families will remain at a major disadvantage in society, and left further behind.
We need to do more. It’s easier said than done, I know, but we need to start acknowledging that a very basic need of people is to be CLEAN – to retain their dignity and self-confidence and to know they’re keeping their kids clean and healthy, just as much as they need food on the table, if they’re expected to perform equally and independently in this country.
I’m often asked how we distribute diapers, so I made a video while I was distributing today to give an idea of how we work. Big thanks to the representatives from our partner agencies that agreed to go on camera for me!
Click through to get to the video:
I’m 43, I had 3 huge baby boys, and I’m currently suffering from one of those rib-cage-rattling coughs that grabs on and just won’t let go.
The irony is not lost on me that ‘the Diaper Lady’ has found herself shopping in the Poise aisle while battling this cough. And experiencing that fearful hope-beyond-hope that the pad I’m wearing can prevent any ’embarrassing accidents’ when I’m in public and a coughing jag comes on.
This may be TMI for some people, but really, ladies especially that have had children, as we get older, the likelihood is that we’re all going to need some kind of incontinence supply. In fact, I’m sure I’m not the only one in my age-range dealing with this now.
If you’re among the fortunate ones that will be comfortable enough in your retirement to be able to afford the (crushingly expensive) personal hygiene products you’ll need to go on living life normally and discreetly, that’s great. But for scores of seniors who enter their “golden years” with just their Social Security check and Medicare to rely on, it just may not be possible. Most seniors will tell you their Social Security check doesn’t fully cover rent, utilities, food & medicine to get through a month, and Medicare won’t pay for or provide incontinence items.
I imagine what I’d do if I was struggling with this cough, which I can’t control, without the protection for my independence and dignity against “accidents” while coughing, which I also can’t control. I guess I’d stay home and avoid the possibility of having ‘an accident’ in public, but there goes my independence and dignity.
What would you do? What will you do??
Diaper need doesn’t just affect low-income families with babies, it also affects people with disabilities, seniors with incontinence issues, and heck, even Diaper Ladies with a bad cough. Let’s not shy away from these ’embarrassing’ conversations – more of us can relate than you think or that might admit it.