A N.J. organization makes us Proud by helping fill this often forgotten need for struggling families
100-thousand diapers and wipes are stacked on shelves in a warehouse next to Homefront’s family campus in Ewing, New Jersey.
Contact Homefront N.J.
The non-profit has its roots in feeding those in need and it recently celebrated the opening of a new Diaper Resource Center. It is a dream come true for Homefront founder and Chief Executive Officer Connie Mercer who told Action News about the organization’s mission.
“Homefront started by working with families warehoused in grim motel rooms 25-26 years ago, bringing food to people,” Mercer said. “The thing we would get asked for the most, after they thanked us for the food, was for diapers. Mothers were desperate to keep their babies clean and healthy.”
All parents know that keeping a baby clean and healthy is not cheap. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, disposable diapers cost at least 70 to 80 dollars per month, per baby. For families already struggling to make ends meet, that’s a big chunk of the budget.
Homefront’s Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Steward, said unlike food and medical expenses, there are no government programs to help out.
“Families that are living on low incomes are spending a lot of their income on diapers. There are no state or federal safety net programs that help provide diapers,” Steward told us. “You can’t use food stamps on diapers and so this program is to create a little room in the budget so that struggling families trying to make ends meet can have help accessing diapers and meeting this critical need.”
And if that need goes unmet, hard choices, like less frequent changes, can lead to consequences for both baby and parents.
“We have seen the most horrific cases of diaper rash because women and men change on a set schedule as opposed to when there’s need because they just don’t have enough,” said Mercer. “The kind of shame that women feel, that a parent feels when they can’t keep baby clean is overwhelming.”
And there’s something else to consider, at first glance, a diaper may not seem like a key ingredient to getting a job, but daycares require diapers, and most say the parents have to provide them.
“This is about helping parents work. If children need access to disposable diapers to attend a daycare program, without those diapers, parents can’t go to work. Childcare is a critical link to help families get to work and diapers are a key part of that,” Steward said.
Homefront volunteers like Stacey Downing and other area donors make this Diaper Resource Center a reality, working hard to collect the current supply and fund the project.
Stacey is a single mom, who raised three kids, and she knows what a resource like this means.
“A resource like this for a single mother is going to mean peace of mind. She can change the baby when the baby needs to be changed instead of trying to conserve what she has.”
Providing peace of mind is Homefront’s specialty, with a mission to help those in need being carried out daily at Homefront’s 42-thousand square foot family campus facility.
Homefront’s programs also include emergency shelter, health care, and job training as well as life skills and a growing array of programs in the arts.
Now they are challenging themselves and the community with this new program to help families struggling with this basic need.