As the pandemic continued, Alissa found herself uncertain about meeting her family’s basic needs. With three kids – two of them under two – anxiety mounted as the young mom tried to keep her babies fed, healthy, and properly diapered. Her mother shared a few tricks about stretching a diaper supply, but the younger baby’s diaper rash was getting worse from extended time in a soiled diaper. She had tried cloth diapers for a while, but ran into complications there, too.
That’s when Alissa turned to Urban Baby Beginnings (UBB) for help. Many Richmond-area families like Alissa’s rely on UBB as a primary source for diapers.
For more than twenty-seven years, UBB has provided maternal and infant support services in an environment that respects the inherent dignity and strength of families. “Our vision is that all expectant people and families have a safe space, a village where they and their children can thrive and grow in a supportive community,” says UBB Executive Director Stephanie Spencer.
The COVID-19 pandemic – with its quarantines, job layoffs, and medical challenges – has created a stressful situation for parents of babies in particular. Since the start of the pandemic, the diapering affiliate of UBB (which formerly operated as Capital Diaper Bank) partnered with Richmond Public Schools and St. Paul’s Baptist Church to provide 2.9 million diapers and other baby essentials to more than 7,500 families.
“One in three children is economically disadvantaged in Virginia, according to Voices for Virginia’s Children. In the Richmond region, 35 percent of children live at or below the federal poverty level, based on data from the United Way,” says Spencer. “Our goal is to ensure that children are thriving by reducing the amount of stress that comes when families have to make choices between rent, electricity, and diapers.”
Clients like Alissa are grateful for UBB’s initiatives in response to the public health and economic crisis, but lack of access to affordable diapers is nothing new for many Richmond-area families.
Spencer says diaper need – cloth or disposable – has always been a complicated issue. Although cloth diapers can be more affordable than disposable diapers, many laundromats have restrictions in place to limit laundering soiled diapers in shared washing machines. Many childcare providers would prefer for families to use disposable diapers.
“Although there are no laws that exist preventing childcare centers from accepting children in cloth diapers, many require children to be dropped off with a daily supply of disposable diapers,” says Spencer.
Providing diapers to families allows caregivers to maintain stable employment, childcare, and funds needed to help reach self-sufficiency.
In 2021, Urban Baby Beginnings has a goal to support more communities through partnership and direct support through increased diaper donations. “No family should have to choose between a clean diaper and safety for their children,” says Spencer. “Our work is essential to ensure that every baby has access to basic necessities. We recognize that change comes from the bottom up, and at UBB we are ready to do just that.”
Help Restock the UBB Diaper Bank
Diaper banks across the country require sustainable funding streams to help babies and families in the community. In Richmond, families are in greatest need of diaper sizes 5 and 6. Drop off donations of disposable diapers all summer long:
Once Upon a Child
- 9015 W. Broad Street, Richmond
- 52 Southgate Square, Colonial Heights
Urban Baby Beginnings
- 211 N. 18th Street, Richmond
Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For information on conducting a fundraiser or donation drive on your own to help expectant and new families, please visit urbanbabybeginings.org
photos: courtesy Urban Baby Beginnings