How did you each first hear about GDCDB?
Erin: Shortly after my 4.5-year-old was born, I read about the diaper bank on a local parenting list serve. Soon I realized that there were three ambassadors within easy walking distance of my house. We donated my son’s outgrown diapers and started making a financial contribution each year on his birthday.
Timothy: Judy and I first heard about GDCDB when Erin signed up to be an ambassador.
What motivated you to get involved in this work?
Erin: When I first found out about the diaper bank, I had a newborn and lived near so many other ambassadors that I wasn’t very involved, even though I thought the work was incredibly compelling. We moved about 18 months ago and one of the first things I did after we were sort-of-settled was to hop on the website and see if there were ambassadors in our new neighborhood. They’re weren’t (yay!), so I emailed Lisa right away to sign up. Then we attended a family volunteering session in the warehouse and wanted to be more involved with those too.
Timothy: Erin may have told us about the diaper bank first, but what really inspired us to get involved is my grandson. He loves working in the warehouse, and he will proudly tell you why it’s important to help babies get diapers. I work for KPMG, and we have a very generous corporate giving program: I wanted to get them involved. And quite reasonably, they said “show us you’re involved first.” So Judy and I became ambassadors and have come to work in the warehouse a few times. Now KPMG is getting ready for our first drive.
What do you think it means (or will mean) to Martin (Erin’s son) to have his parents and grandparents involved in this work?
Martin: I like getting my friends involved in the Greater DC Diaper Bank, and I like going to the warehouse because they have great toys. Once we finish bundling the diapers we put them in stacks and the diaper bank gets them to people who can’t afford them. It’s kind of like how there’s a toy drive at school, so moms and dads who can’t afford toys can give them to their kiddos.
Owen: I think it’s a really approachable way to teach empathy, and it gives him a way to help others. Kids naturally want to help others, and I think it’s important to nurture that.
Growing up did you each see volunteering and donating in your own families?
Timothy: I certainly saw a lot of donating, and I guess I did get involved with Big Brothers (there weren’t Big Sisters back then) and delivering holiday gift baskets. And then we volunteered at our church, organizing coffee and donuts after mass and working at the parish soup kitchen.
Judy: My mother was the queen of volunteering. At one point whenever she showed up at a neighbor’s house, they would say “let me get my checkbook” because they could just assume that she was there collecting for a cause.
What’s your favorite part about volunteering?
Timothy: I like that you can choose-your-own-adventure with the Greater DC Diaper Bank. There are so many different ways you can be involved and they make it really easy to get involved. You can do everything from volunteering in the warehouse, to becoming an ambassador and collecting donations, to writing a check.
Martin: Bundling diapers!
Erin: I think the work the GDCDB does is really important work, and I’m so happy to feel like I get to do a little bit of that work. But what I really love most, as a warehouse leader, is that I get to teach other people about the work. Some people have been there before and are committed to the cause and want to get more involved, but we also get a lot of volunteers who have never been here before. They don’t understand the scale of need, or how effective GDCDB is at meeting those needs.
What do you wish more people knew about GDCDB? About this need?
Judy: The fact that it exists!
Timothy: The thing I find really neat is that diapers are a gateway item—they ask for something for their kids, but they’re able to get other services that amplify the impact of 25 diapers a month. It’s such a smart model to increase the effectiveness.
What’s the strangest reaction you’ve gotten when you’ve told someone about the work you do with GDCDB?
Timothy: A lot of people’s first reaction is “what?” And then they make a joke. If you don’t find yourself strapped for funds, you just don’t think about the need, but I do find it resonates with people as soon as you start explaining.
Erin: One time I tried to explain the diaper bank without comparing it to a food bank, and I learned that that is a really important and easy-to-understand metaphor. I tried to explain our work a couple of different ways and it just never clicked. They thought it was a diaper co-op. It made me realize that “it’s kind of like a food bank, but for diapers” is a crystal-clear description. And as you said, once they understand that the need is there, it’s very easy to understand.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Erin and family recently welcomed the newest diaper banker to the family- Welcome to Diapers, baby Colin!