NDBN-member The Greater Philadelphia Diaper Bank received the spotlight treatment in the January issue of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. The full text below, is reprinted with permission.
Time for a Change: Diaper Need, The Scourge Right Under Our Noses
Written by Alescia Marie Teel
One of Pat Kennedy’s first partners, a social worker, may have framed the problem best. When they met with clients who were homeless, they would find them a local shelter. When they met a client who was hungry, they would pair them with a local food pantry and SNAP benefits. When they met with someone who needed diapers, there was absolutely nothing they could offer them. That is, until 2011 when Pat Kennedy was so moved by an article in Time magazine that she dedicated a small inheritance she received to jumpstarting The Greater Philadelphia Diaper Bank (PDB). The organization that started out of Pat’s garage today distributes 400,000 diapers a year to residents across Pennsylvania and South Jersey.
When Pat founded the PDB, there were no other organizations in the Philadelphia area providing diapers for the many that were in desperate need of clean, disposable diapers. Those in need included families living on the edge of poverty, adults on fixed incomes with terminal illnesses, and seniors with limited resources fighting to maintain their independence and dignity. The void that existed created a world of opportunity for the fledgling organization and an immediate “cannot wait” list of partner organizations that had clients clamoring for free diapers.
PDB stepped in and immediately started to support the daily needs of thousands who finally had a place to turn to for help. Just for context, a newborn baby can use about ten to twelve diapers a day with costs of up an estimated $100 per month (RWJF Community Health Leader Convenes “Diaper Rights” Colloquium 2010). For young families without disposable income who cannot afford a package of diapers, local corner stores offer an even more expensive option: single diapers that they sell loose or in small repackaged amounts that cost about $1-2 per diaper.
Pat, a former school teacher from Michigan, modeled the PDB after the Detroit Area Diaper Bank and the New Haven Diaper Bank, two of the nation’s earliest diaper bank organizations. Focusing on serving the population of low-income Pennsylvania and South Jersey residents in need, Pat rolled up her sleeves and has been known to pack more than 3,000 diapers into her car to get them from one site to the next. She relies on the expertise and support of her close friends and family who serve as executive and advisory board members. The organization measures its progress through basic performance management by calculating the number of diapers distributed and the number of partner organizations. (more…)