In recognition of their ongoing volunteer work with the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank in Virginia Beach, Brenda Martinette of Portsmouth, Va., and Lydia Millington of Newport News, Va., have been named recipients of the National Diaper Bank Network’s Champions for Change for the month of May.
Brenda Martinette Lydia Millington
The national award recognizes individuals, groups or organizations that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to advancing awareness of diaper need, and/or supporting an individual diaper bank or the diaper bank community.
“I nominated Brenda and Lydia, because they continually go above and beyond their roles as volunteers in order to help individuals and families,” said Cheryl Leadbeater, coordinator of the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank.
Each year, the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank distributes a quarter million diapers to more than 7,000 families in need via partnerships with some 30-plus community organizations, including Western Branch Baptist Church in Portsmouth and Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newport News, where Martinette and Millington volunteer, respectively.
This past March, Leadbeater turned to Marinette and Millington for help after receiving a request for adult diapers from a man living in Bedford, Va., a town currently unserved by a diaper bank and located 240 miles west of their organizations.
According to Leadbeater, the man suffered a spinal cord injury and was unable to work. He and his wife went through their savings during the past year after she was laid off from her job. The man’s medical condition requires him to wear adult diapers, which along with the related supplies cost more than $400 per month. With only his disability check as a source of income, the couple was having a tough time making ends meet, and turned to the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank in desperation.
Fortunately, Leadbeater’s organization had a supply of adult diapers in its warehouse at the time.
“Lydia and Brenda teamed up, to not only figure out how to get the diapers to the gentleman who lives four hours away, but they worked to identify a church in his community that could provide him with assistance going forward,” she said. “The action is reflective of their daily commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.”
The Western Branch Baptist Church in Portsmouth currently distributes about 1,300 diapers each month to 27 children and two adults. According to Martinette, “We are seeing more adults coming forward with the need for diapers. We always need more diapers and more funding, so donations are welcome.”
Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newport News helps a similar number of families each month—distributing 1,000 diapers to 24 children—via its diaper program run as part of the organization’s food pantry, Emmanuel House. “The E House is a one-woman show, with limited resources,” said Millington. “We serve the surrounding area as well as families from Suffolk, Hampton and Williamsburg. When we all work together, we are able to accomplish so much and serve those in need.”
Champions for Change reflects a core ideal of National Diaper Bank Network — small things affect big things. The honor is not necessarily presented for the biggest, the most or the best of any one act, rather for simple actions that inspire emotion and renew the vigor in all of us to continuing helping others.
The Champions for Change nomination form can be downloaded here. Submissions are accepted throughout the year.