Local agencies can help those who can’t afford diapers

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"Low-income mothers who cannot afford diapers are also more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety,” states Dr. Megan Veenema Smith, from the Yale School of Medicine. This quote is from a new study published in the journal Pediatrics on the stressors that impact the mental health of moms — especially their ability to bond with their kids.

As president of The Moms’ Network and mother of four children, I could provide a long list of stressors for mothers, (I write with a smile). Several articles have been published on the issue because it came as a surprise to the authors that diapers were listed with food and housing as major concerns for those in the study, especially for low-income or single-parent households.

How to help

Diaper donation locations include:

» Sonbridge Community Center: 1200 S.E. 12th Ave., College Place, 529-3100.

» Catholic Charities of Walla Walla: 408 W. Poplar St., Walla Walla, 525-0572.

» Helpline of Walla Walla: 1520 Kelly Place, Suite 180, Walla Walla, 529-3377.

Other agencies

» Family Medical Center: 1120 W. Rose St., Walla Walla, 525-6650.

» Walla Walla County Health Department: 314 W. Main St., Walla Walla, 524.2650.

» YoungLives: 525-1518.

» Lincoln High School: 421 S. Fourth Ave., Walla Walla, 527-3083.

» Walla Walla Community College Parent Child Center: 500 Tausick Way, Walla Walla.

I could easily write an article about how “out of touch” these authors must be with what parenting is really all about, but I won’t. Instead I will brag about local agencies and The Moms’ Network, which are assisting families with diapers.

Even for functional or financially stable families, purchasing disposable diapers is a commitment. A family can spend anywhere from $70 to $100 a month on diapers. WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), a federal program that subsidizes food for low income families, does not provide any funding for diapers. Parents lacking funds must look for a local organization that collects and distributes diapers to families in need.

Now, let me end the cloth diaper debate right here. At this time, most state-funded child care facilities do not allow cloth diapers. Also, one cannot wash cloth diapers at laundromats. Those two facts make it almost impossible for a low-income family to use cloth diapers.

I am proud to say that there are three organizations in the Walla Walla Valley that distribute diapers directly to families: Sonbridge Community Center, Catholic Charities of Walla Walla and Helpline. They all work together to make sure families in need can receive help.

There are also smaller organizations that help families when they see a need: Family Medical Center, Walla Walla County Health Department, YoungLives, Lincoln High School and the Walla Walla Community College Parent Child Center.

Four years ago, Moms’ Network member Amy Reed approached me and asked if the Moms’ Network would fund a Diaper Drive that would collect new diapers and pull-ups for our local agencies. In four years this community has donated over 24,000 diapers to be distributed to local families in need.

Amy works with local businesses to promote the drive and each allows us to put a large box in their business as a diaper drop-off location. The Moms’ Network promotes the Diaper Drive, but it is people in the community who make it so successful.

I have found that once people understand that diapers are just as important as proper nutrition for a baby, and that some families in our community have to decide between food or diapers, donating becomes easy. So even though this year’s Diaper Drive is officially over, all three organizations still need your donations of diapers.

As for the study, I am happy that a little dose of reality has come out of this one, and that more professionals and news media are discussing the real struggles of parenting. I look forward to the next study on how children’s’ temper tantrums in public cause severe gray hair in moms.

Beth Swanson is founder of The Mom’s Network in Walla Walla. She can be reached at 301-7471 or bethswanson@charter.net.

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