Diaper bank conference brings movement's leaders together for support

The National Diaper Bank Network works to provide millions of diapers to children. This year, 52 new diaper banks have started up in 29 states.

To support both new and existing diaper bank leaders, the National Diaper Bank Network held its Diaper Banks in America Conference in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 9-10. The third annual conference brought together more than 90 diaper bank leaders from all over the country.

Shawna Walz, founder and executive director of the new Boise-based Idaho Diaper Bank, said she wanted to learn from other diaper bankers about proven methods to hold successful diaper drives, get communities involved, and raise funds.

“Our goal this week is really to be sponges, because there’s so much knowledge and expertise in the room, with people that have been doing diaper banking for 20 years,” said Walz, who attended the conference with her deputy director and mother, Carol Seiber.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with others who are trying to advocate and support children in need and their families who are facing poverty issues, and to exchange ideas, exchange challenges and make changes within our organizations that are advancing the cause overall,” said Nancy Woodland, a veteran diaper banker and executive director of Seattle-based WestSide Baby, a 14-year-old organization that collects and distributes diapers and essential non-food items to local babies and young children.

“There’s so many things that, when you’re in a silo and you’re all by yourself, you forget that you’re not the only one who’s trying to address an issue or a need,” Woodland said. “And by collaborating together, we end up exchanging all kinds of ideas that just make it so much easier for us to do what we do.”

Woodland spoke to NCR about how WestSide Baby recently acquired a similar nearby organization, St. Joseph’s Baby Corner, which was established in Seattle’s St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

“So now we have this fantastic network of — they’re called crib communities — that are established in eight Catholic congregations throughout King County,” Woodland said. “That just really ties back to this networking opportunity and this conference, because I’m not sure that I would’ve been brave enough to take that on, if I didn’t have some of the resources and the support and the collaborative opportunities that come out of these conferences.”

“Diapers are silly, and yet, my favorite phrase is ‘human waste is complicated.’ Dealing with it is complicated. It’s expensive. It’s smelly. There’s so many parts of it,” Woodland added. “Human waste is complicated. And the babies that are in the world are not the ones who can fight this battle. So if we’re able to provide something as simple as a diaper to them, and then let’s keep working on the really big challenges, so that we can go out of business. Wouldn’t that be great?”

[Mick Forgey is an NCR Bertelsen intern. He can be reached at mforgey@ncronline.org.]




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