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Caring Unites Us: Greater DC Diaper Bank

Caring Unites Us
Greater DC Diaper Bank

Greater DC Diaper Bank was founded by a caregiver, for other caregivers.

In 2009, Corinne Cannon had her first child – and was struck by how difficult it was, even with all the support in the world. What if she didn’t have the resources that allowed her to provide the basic necessities for her child? Thus, the Diaper Bank was born.

1 in 3 Americans face diaper need – the inability to provide an adequate supply of clean diapers to their child(ren). For infants, that averages between 8-10 diapers a day.

Top-down photo of a smiling baby lying on a white bed who is wearing a blue onesieGreater DC Diaper Bank (GDCDB) addresses diaper need and supports vulnerable families in our region by collaborating with partners to distribute essential baby and hygiene products and expand access to critical services. With over 75 partners in the region working in fields from healthcare to education, our partners use diapers as a gateway resource to build relationships with families. Partners are already providing a multitude of social services to the community – by offering diapers to families, those families are more likely to come in for health checkups, meetings with their case manager, or to start conversations about other needs that they have. 96% of surveyed partners agree that offering diapers helps build trust with their clients, and 88% agree that providing diapers makes clients more likely to keep scheduled appointments.

At the core of our work are moms and caregivers. Moms can be made to feel guilty or inadequate for not being able to provide diapers for their children – a feeling that leads to increased stress and emotional turmoil, which increases risk for maternal depression. 98% of the families we serve agree that receiving diapers allows them to parent how they want to and reduces their stress as a caregiver. It also increases their children’s health by reducing diaper rash, improving sleep performance, and creating happier babies overall.

Healthy, happy babies lead to happier, healthier communities. Every child deserves an equal chance and no mom or caregiver should have to go without the hygiene essentials they need to care for their baby.

“Each time I received (the pack of diapers), it was just like a load lifted off my shoulders. It’s one less thing – and one less major thing – to have to worry about. It’s just pure sadness, really, having to try to decide where to spend your last $25.” – Jessica, diaper recipient

Photo of two Black women dressed warmly posing for the camera and carrying packs of diapers

A story from one of our partners emphasizes the importance of the relationship between the Diaper Bank, its partners, and parents:

One of our partners, Bright Beginnings, is a childcare center for homeless families located in DC that offers childcare five days a week. They were working with a mother who was bringing her daughter in, but not on a consistent basis. The social worker overseeing the mother’s case spoke with her, asking why the daughter wasn’t coming consistently to see how they could help. Though the mother said she would look into coming more often, the same cycle continued for a while.

Then, we began partnering with Bright Beginnings so that they could distribute diapers to the parents at their childcare center. This mom was one of the clients who began receiving diapers. Suddenly, the little girl was attending the daycare five days a week and showing up every day. The social worker overseeing her case spoke to the mother to ask her what had changed and why she was suddenly able to come five days a week. “With you buying my diapers, I can afford bus fare now,” responded the mother.

This mother had been rationing her bus fare, stretching out the days her daughter could attend the childcare center, to save money for diapers. With the 50 diapers she was now allotted each month, made possible by Bright Beginning’s partnership with Greater DC Diaper Bank, she was able to put that money towards bus fare, and towards her daughter’s overall wellbeing. Her daughter was now getting three full meals a day, socializing with other kids in a safe environment, and getting her physical, mental, and emotional needs comprehensively taken care of through a community of caregivers – all essential components of a child’s development.

While this number of diapers may seem small or insignificant, to a parent struggling to ration that $3.50 roundtrip bus fare, it makes an immense difference. Providing diapers to parents who need them creates a positive feedback loop of overall care for their child, opening them up to further services and resources that are essential for their physical and emotional health.

“Imagine how the trajectory of a family’s life changes with one diaper… (It says) come, let us help you, let us serve you, let us strengthen you as a family.” – Centro Nia, GDCDB Partner

Photo of two people wearing masks and posing for a camera by the open trunk of a car, which is full with packs of diapers

We are proud to serve moms and families with our work and, during this time of year, we want to recognize all the moms we serve, in all the forms that they come in – a mom, an auntie, a grandma, a sibling, a neighbor, those we are connected to through life and love, some who chose us, and some we chose – all part of the network of caregivers working to raise the next generation.

Throughout the month of May, Greater DC Diaper Bank’s Caring Unites Us Campaign is raising money to serve and empower mothers in DC, Maryland, and Virginia by providing hygiene essentials to families in need. Learn more about diaper need, including how to get involved, on the Greater DC Diaper Bank website.

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