When I first heard the idea for Baby Basics in January 2012, I asked the same question that many ask, “Why diapers?” It’s a fair question since diapers are not exciting or even interesting unless you need them and cannot afford them. One in three moms in America struggles to provide their babies with diapers. Babies who aren’t changed frequently enough are at a greater risk for diaper rash and other health issues. The need for diapers is a silent crisis in our community.
As much as diapers seem like a mundane item for families with young children, they are a significant budget item for low-income parents and a necessity for a baby’s hygiene and well-being. And crying and sick babies can cause extra stress in homes where there is already financial stress and potentially other stresses.
Baby Basics Bellevue was “born” out of learning about this diaper need and the toll it takes on babies and their families. Our goal is to help babies thrive and to support families stay above the poverty line. Food stamps and WIC (Women Infant Children supplemental nutritional program) cannot be used to purchase diapers and that there are no government subsidies for diapers. By providing the necessity of diapers and connecting families to other services in the community, Baby Basics also helps alleviate the stress of living on the edge for those in our program.
Even with two working parents, one of the families that Baby Basics Bellevue has had the opportunity to get to know and serve has experienced the stress of living on the edge financially. Here is their story:
“Baby Basics has been such a blessing to my family. We moved to Bellevue in May 2015. We lost our home in the Spring due to the rising cost of rent in the Seattle area. My husband Robert and I have always had employment, but we could not keep up with the rent increases and the costs to support our family. We were placed in transitional housing in Bellevue through Attain Housing, a program based in Kirkland. While meeting our caseworker weekly, she informed us of Hopelink, our neighborhood resource center, and food bank. She also sent a referral to Baby Basics of Bellevue for us. Robert was working, and I was on maternity leave at the time.
Wow, what a blessing this program has been to us! Relying on diapers from a food bank is a hit or miss. You get a few diapers two times a week with whatever sizes they have available. I quickly switched career paths and started working for Hopelink in June. I am still able to utilize Hopelink’s services, as this is our neighborhood service center.
Even though we are a two-parent household with both of us are working, it is stressful struggling to pay for food and necessities because we make too much to qualify for benefits, yet not enough to be fully self-sufficient. We fall into the gap and that is where the struggle is. A program that provides enough diapers each month for your baby is completely and utterly amazing! This program not only encourages people to get employed and get off government assistance, but they help you beyond just providing diapers. They are extremely kindhearted and loving individuals, you can tell they love what they are doing.
Thank you, Baby Basics, for all you do for us families that need it. You are such a blessing and inspiration! It has encouraged me to want to start a program like this in the future.” Meghan P.
As we move forward in 2017, Baby Basics’ challenge and privilege is to continue to respond to the requests for assistance with diapers and with referrals to other agencies able to provide for other needs. Since 2012, Baby Basics Bellevue has distributed over 150,000 diapers to families in the program as well as families in crisis and homeless shelters.
The impact of diapers is far-reaching, helping babies and their families toward positive outcomes. Baby Basics literally needs caring, helping hands to carry on the work we are doing. As a 100% volunteer-run non-profit, we can only do what we do because volunteers give the gift of time, expertise, and kindness.
We are grateful for the support of our generous community!
To help meet this great need and raise awareness in our community, Baby Basics Bellevue is having their 5th annual Mother’s Day Diaper Drive. The gift of diapers is an ideal way to honor mothers and to show support for low-income working moms (and dads!) on the Eastside. Your gift of diapers this May will help to cover a little bottom and will make a big difference to a family. Diapers in sizes 3, 4, 5, and 6 are especially needed.
On Mother’s Day, May 14, Bellevue Presbyterian Church is collecting diaper donations for Baby Basics. Donation bins will be in the church’s main lobby and the Upper Campus.