Lisa Truong Helps Mothers Out With Diapers
Did you know that diapers are not specifically covered by social safety net programs like WIC, food stamps, or welfare? Those most basic of babies' needs are things that are often not the highest item on the grocery lists of lower-income families with limited budgets. The thought of little ones having to stay in soiled diapers for extended periods of time because their parents don't have enough money to afford both food and diapers is a sobering one. It is, in fact, one that moved two California moms back in 2009 to take some simple actions that had big results.
Galvanized by news reports of the effect of the U.S.'s recession on families, young children, and mothers, Lisa Truong and Rachel Fudge felt they had to do something. Since Mother's Day happened to be approaching, and they happened to have a good handle on various social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Gmail, Google Apps, even Amazon.com—they issued a simple invitation for people to either contribute monetarily to a virtual diaper drive, or to drop donation diapers off at a couple of local cafes. Do you know what happened? They received 15,000 diapers, which they distributed among shelters and family resource centers in the Bay Area.
"Surprised and awed by the overwhelming community support," they said, "as well as the breadth of need in California and across the country," they decided to formalize and grow their efforts. So HelpAMotherOut.org was formed. Under the auspices of a sponsoring nonprofit called Community Initiatives, Lisa became HAMO's executive director, and her efforts, as well as those of various board members and countless volunteers, garnered more than 900,000 more diapers over the next three years.
According to HelpAMotherOut.org, "a family’s access to a reliable supply of clean diapers leads to:
- Healthier communities, since dirty diapers on the move can make us sick and spread hepatitis A, viral meningitis, and severe bacterial diarrhea.
- Happier families, since kids who get frequent diaper changes don’t get painful diaper rash, fever, loss of appetite or vomiting, herpes, staphylococci, urinary tract infections, jaundice or renal failure.
- More opportunities to thrive, for both the child and the parents. Parents need to work. Kids need to learn. A supply of clean diapers is required to attend most childcare programs. Parents who have enough diapers are more able to be gainfully employed."
It's amazing what can happen when mothers set their minds on helping. We become nucleation sites, facilitators, magnets, conductors, and focal points for charity. And, ultimately, charity is the only glue that will hold this world together. We have a powerful role ... and a really beneficial one as well. Says Lisa about how giving makes a giver feel, "Giving back is one of the best feelings in the world. I think for a lot of us it is really easy to focus on things and experiences that we don't have—whether that's a new car or the latest gadget, exotic vacation, etc. Giving back, even in a small way, can give you much needed perspective and gratitude for what you already have. Want to teach your children about sharing kindness with others? Involve them in your efforts—it makes them feel good, too, and the experiences will be something they remember as they grow up."
Want to help Lisa out? "You don't have to have deep pockets to do it," she says. "I recommend starting in your own community. Start with something small. Host a diaper drive at your child's school, at work, or your place of worship (you can donate to your local diaper bank, family resource center, or Early Head Start program). You can also follow HelpAMotherOut.org on Facebook and on Twitter.
Main photo courtesy of Redbook. Feature photo coutresy of Flickr.
What are some other ways to serve low-income families in your community?