My name is Jennifer and my wife Jessica and I live in Vancouver, Washington with our dog Pippin. We are expecting our first child at the end of October. We tried for two years before we got our coveted positive pregnancy test that let us know that our daughter Ruby would be on her way to us!
When my wife and I first started talking about having a baby, I talked to her about cloth diapering. As a low-income family it would not only save us money over disposables, but they are cute and better for our baby as well. After some research she finally agreed, and so we started out with a few covers and some prefolds. After our two years of trying we slowly managed to get a lovely stash of bumGenius, Econobums and some work-at-home mom brand diapers. We now have everything we need to diaper our daughter from birth to potty learning, and did it for under $500! When you compare that to at least $1,500 for disposable diapers, it really makes you think, and for us it just made sense.
The City of Vancouver, where I am the host for Share the Love, is a beautiful city on the Columbia River with a population of approximately 162,000 people. Approximately 28.5% of Vancouver’s population lives in a lower middle class household, or a household with an annual income of between $25,000 and $50,000. The second most common household income level is low income with approximately 23.4% of Vancouver’s residents living in a household earning an annual income lower than $25,000. The unemployment rate is approximately 6.5% and most families in Vancouver have two or three members, and of course there are many larger families as well. Rent averages between $500 and $1,000 a month and some things such as water, sewer, and garbage services are covered, but not in all cases. Many Vancouver families rely on the assistance of SNAP benefits (food stamps), WIC, or other benefits provided by the State in order to feed and take care of their family.
Share the Love brings attention to 1 in 3 families having to choose between buying diapers, paying bills or buying food for their family. Vancouver, as a low-income city, fits into the 1 in 3 ratio. I see it every day on the Vancouver Free Market (a Facebook webpage for free items and services), where a parent in need asks for diapers for their child because they just can’t afford to get any at that moment. I see families struggling who will trade other items they have to get diapers or food for their children. Families who wouldn’t normally ask for any help swallow their pride and reach out and ask for a helping hand.
Share the Love is there to help answer the call. When I first saw that Cotton Babies had this program I was elated! I just knew that I had to step up and be that outreach person for Vancouver, and I am so very glad that I did! I have now helped 6 families put cloth diapers on 7 babies. I have helped take the load off a parent’s mind of “where am I going to get money for diapers this week?” I have been able to say that there IS hope, and that people DO care.
When I first became a host I put out the call on a local cloth diaper page on Facebook requesting donations and they came pouring in! I was over the moon with the generosity of our community! I have always had someone step up and say that they have some diapers I can have to help a family, and I am so proud of the Vancouver community for stepping up and helping one another. I’ve been very fortunate that so many people have helped me help other families in their time of need.
One of my favorite stories from Share the Love is about a family of 5 – three children, two of whom were in diapers. I met up with them at my local Cotton Babies store and was elated to find out that dad was interested in learning all about these cloth diapers, not just mom! He had more questions than she did in fact! He was excited and very enthusiastic and so grateful for Share the Love.
However, there have also been sad times. A mom met me for a distribution a few days after the birth of her baby girl. She was recovering from a cesarean section and I had diapers for her newborn as well as her other daughter who was around 18 months. Her mother was with her and I was sitting down to start my introduction with her when I asked about her newborn. Unbeknownst to me, her newborn unfortunately had passed on due to medical complications. I was heartbroken for this mom. Nothing prepared me for this news and I hurriedly pulled the newborn diapers from her tote bag I had brought for her. When we connected later on, this amazingly strong mom apologized for being such a wreck, but of course she had every right to be. She has since been able to successfully cloth her other daughter and has even been willing to pass on information to other families about the Share the Love program.
Currently the Vancouver site is in need of newborn options, covers and pockets. Our biggest need, however, are for people that can do repair work on salvageable diapers.