If you are a parent, you know how expensive diapers are. Now, imagine if you could barely afford to make ends meet and you run out of diapers. That is the situation for a lot of moms in our area, and the Diaper Bank of Northern Indiana has made it their mission to help.
But now, the organization is on the verge of disappearing.
In the past, the local diaper bank relied on a national board. That big national board has reorganized and our local organization can't stay afloat. Board members say they have no choice now but to shut down for good -- unless someone steps up to help.
Like any baby, 20-month-old Essence knows how to make a mess. The toddler is playing with with a giant bucket of crayons as she sits on the floor next to her mom at the Youth Services Bureau. Essence pours the bucket out onto the floor. Her 20-year-old mom Alyssee Williams laughs.
If you think the pile of crayons will be a mess to clean up, think again. Williams deals with worse daily."She is only 2-years-old and I can say I have spent already $3,000 on diapers," says Williams.
But Williams wouldn't have it any other way. "I love it. I wouldn't trade it for nothing else," she says.
That doesn't mean parenting for this young mom is easy. She has a job, but making ends meet is tough. To get by every month, she relies on the dozen free diapers she gets from the Youth Service Bureau. The Bureau, in part, helps young moms become better parents. The problem is that supply of fresh diapers that the Bureau supplies to each mom every month is about to run out for good.
"Some of our clients have wrapped their babies in dish towels and called and said I am in urgent need of diapers," explains Shelly Ambroziak, who runs the Young Mom's Self Sufficiency Program at the Bureau.
The Diaper Bank of Northern Indiana collects large quantities of diapers and supplies the bureau and about 25 other agencies with free diapers to give to moms in need. But the bank is on the verge of disappearing, and when they do, moms will have nowhere to turn.
"(People think) Medicaid will cover that, or food stamps will cover that. But that is not the case," says Diaper Bank Board President Amy Kanouse. "And individuals are left with the hard choice of do I pay my rent, put food on the table or buy diapers for my baby."
Kanouse is hoping someone or some group will step up to help run the bank long term. If not, the organization and its supply of diapers will run out soon.
"When you don't have diapers, there is no alternative," says Williams. "It is not like you can say 'go get me something and put it on her until we get her a diaper.'"
Kanouse says there is hope. An agency has come forward with interest, but that is still up in the air. She says if there isn't a resolution in the next couple weeks the organization will dissolve.