The New Haven Diaper Bank was created in June of 2004 in response to the lack of public assistance for purchasing diapers for poor and low-income families. Recognizing that an inadequate supply of diapers puts families with young children at an increased risk for health and parenting complications, The New Haven Diaper Bank (NHDB) began distributing diapers to poor and low-income families in New Haven through approved social service agencies. The first diaper distribution, held at the home of NHDB founder Joanne Goldblum in July 2004, provided fewer than 5,000 diapers to 5 flagship agencies. Just one year later, the NHDB expanded its storage and distribution capacity by moving into a donated warehouse space. Over the past eleven years The Diaper Bank has distributed more than 19,000,000 free diapers to families through our nationally recognized Diaper Distribution Network.
Modeled on successful regional food banks, The Diaper Bank collects diapers and cash donations for bulk purchases of diapers. Diapers are then distributed through local agencies including shelters, food pantries, day care and health facilities.
The New Haven Diaper Bank was 100% volunteer and donation driven until 2006. All office materials, legal fees, evaluation expertise, warehouse space and other costs were donated by friends, family and board members. By underwriting the administrative and overhead costs at that time, 100% of every dollar collected by the NHDB went toward the purchase of diapers. With the ever growing demands of managing and administering the monthly distribution of tens of thousands of diapers to dozens of agencies, the NHDB hired our first part time employee in 2006 to direct the Diaper Distribution Network.
In the Connecticut Legislative Session of 2007, the Connecticut State budget included $150,000 to be spent providing diapers to families who could not otherwise afford them. This came as a direct result of the work that the New Haven Diaper Bank has done in New Haven and the state of Connecticut. In January 2008, the New Haven Diaper Bank became The Diaper Bank as a direct result of expanding our service area into the cities of Hartford and Bridgeport.
The Diaper Bank has been charged with a crucial but long-overlooked mission - to address the Basic Needs of those most vulnerable in our communities, poor babies and toddlers.
There are, of course, dozens of dedicated organizations across Connecticut, which help poor and low-income families, and many of these organizations are partners and close friends of The Diaper Bank. Indeed, many of these organizations are instrumental in meeting crucial needs and helping vulnerable families to obtain food and shelter. I have been dedicated to the success of The Diaper Bank since I joined the staff in 2007. Poor and low-income families struggle every day to keep their children safe and healthy, but without a free source of clean diapers, this basic task of parenting is an impossibility. There are NO ongoing local, state or federal sources of free diapers for at-risk families, despite the fact that diapers are a source of an enormous financial strain and drain on these struggling families. And there are NO ongoing sources of free diapers despite the documented health risks including infections and charges of neglect and abuse clearly associated with infrequent changing of soiled diapers. And there are NO ongoing sources of free diapers, despite the universal recognition by pediatricians, social workers, public health officials and struggling parents that diapers (like food and shelter) are a Basic Need not a luxury or an optional expenditure.
The Diaper Bank was founded in order to meet these unmet needs and to foster awareness about diaper and other hygiene needs and rights. In only 12 years, we have grown from a fledgling local non-profit staffed only by a few dedicated volunteers into a professional organization with a national profile. Throughout this early period of profound growth, The Diaper Bank has kept its core values intact. We have increased our presence at the state level by being involved in advocacy efforts in partnership with the CT Early Childhood Alliance and the CT Alliance for Basic Human Needs. We continue to be supported by a large and expanding family of volunteers and donors across the state and as one of the largest diaper banks in the country, our organization takes a leadership role in the National Diaper Bank Network, the national organization working to help other diaper banks across the country.
We may be a presence on the national stage, where we tirelessly advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable among us, but we also are a local organization dedicated to implementing real and lasting change in our home communities.
As board chair, one of my most significant responsibilities is to ensure the proper governance of the organization. I need all of the board members to understand their governance responsibilities and I need to ensure that those responsibilities are being met. We provide periodic training, discuss governance issues at our board meetings, and at our board retreat this summer we engaged in a facilitated discussion on governance and other issues. In addition, our Governance Committee meets monthly to ensure that our members are aware of and meeting board member governance responsibilities.
I, like many people who hear The Diaper Bank story, was dumbstruck by the driving fact behind the organization's creation: none of our social safety nets cover the basic human need of an adequate supply of clean diapers. As a result, families are forced to make choices between basic needs like food and diapers and of course, food wins. And it became clear that from the seemingly small problem of not being able to buy diapers, families suffer additional more significant problems like not being able to pursue educational opportunities or get jobs because without diapers day care providers won't accept children. So the basic need, unmet, creates larger individual and societal problems. The simple solution The Diaper Bank provides is to create that safety net that in turn helps solve complex societal problems. I went from being dumbstruck to energized. And it doesn't hurt that I like spending time with The Diaper Bank family of committed staff and board members. Together, we work on little things that solve big issues.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
A strong community not only meets its members’ basic needs but also works to create long-term solutions to their problems. Provide people with affordable housing, enough to eat and access to affordable health care and you enable them to envision a better future for themselves.
When families, schools and communities take the view that children and youth are valued and respected assets to society, they necessarily support environments that nurture youth development. Children raised to embrace positive social values, to seek self-understanding, and to value their self-worth grow to become community-minded young adults with a sense of belonging and a belief in their resiliency. See how you can help our community's children grow into tomorrow's leaders.
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