Arnita M. Williams
Jul 1, 2021
In 2017, the Indiana Diaper Bank was founded and established by Rachel Suskovich.
“When I started the diaper bank, I wasn’t sure that there was a community need for it. I could recognize the need, but unfortunately, reality is that most people haven’t heard of diaper banks.” “During that time, I was working at Lilly as a program manager and my contract had ended. So, I had decided to be a stay-at home mom, and it was by happenstance, that I stumbled upon what diaper banks were. As a mom, it resonated with me, that there are families out there that literally live paycheck-to-paycheck, and diaper-to-diaper, and that we all know about food insecurity.”
When asked what diaper insecurity was and how parents can better provide these basic needs for their children when they’re so expensive she said, “Well, I started researching and digging in and found out that 48 out of 50 states had diaper banks, except for Indiana and Kentucky, and that, there are over 300 diaper banks nationwide, but there was obviously a lacking resource in Indiana. So, I decided to start the diaper bank. The first year I was just enamored by the response of families giving, and then families needing. It just came full circle that every mom needs a little bit of help, but every mom has a little bit of help to give. It was really inspiring just to keep this going and growing. So, last year, for example, our third year in programming, we distributed just over 330,000 diapers and served over 6,000 families, and the need was enormous. We all saw those lines at food banks, which was a harsh reality. We had those long lines for diapers, as well. So, this year we’re just growing partnerships and serving families through our partnership models.”
When asked to clear-up some confusion about how the organization works, and the difference between a diaper bank and a diaper pantry she said, “A diaper bank provides diapers to other agencies. Diaper pantries, such as one of our partners, Sweet Cheeks Diaper Pantry, operated by Todd and Sandy Frauhiger in Pike Township, provides diapers directly to families.”
“So, understanding how we serve families, we have about 25 nonprofit partners right now that we give diapers to, and we’re always adding new. It’s always growing as we’re able to support them. Then they implement, or integrate those diapers into their programs and serve their families in different ways. Our partners vary from foster care agencies, to children, shelters, food pantries, early learning centers, and they’re all just a little bit different,” Rachel said.
Non-profits need financial support to function. So, I asked Rachel how the diaper bank receives its support? “We’re just like any traditional nonprofit. We receive funding from grant sources, as well as individual donations.” They also receive in-kind donations “where people donate diapers, leftover from their child, who may have outgrown them. Or people may just feel like donating diapers, Rachel replied.”
We asked, where does the Indiana Diaper Bank go from here? “We’re always looking for ways to better serve families. We’re really excited about supporting early learning centers. As we learn more about diaper need, we’re finding out that it is an overlooked issue. One in three families report experiencing diaper need, which is too much. But of those families experiencing diaper need, they are on average, missing about four days of work or school a month, because they didn’t have their diapers to drop-off with their kids at daycare. It’s about trying to address this cycle of poverty. While being someone with access to diapers, I’m going to be completely transparent and say, 'you know, I have three kids under five and whenever I go to drop-off my kids at daycare, I grab their supplies.' I drop them off and then I head on to work and I don’t think much about it. A family experiencing diaper need, can’t drop their child off at care. They don’t have the diapers. So, then, they can’t go to school or work, which means they’re not going to get paid. Therefore, they still cannot afford diapers to drop them off.”
“We’re looking at different ways to impact poverty, by collaborating with Early Head Start, Early Learning Indiana, the Excel centers, and all early learning programs for non-traditional students. This is to ensure that kids are going to early-learning care, and that the parents can return to work safely,” Rachel added.
If your organization is interested in participating in the diaper distribution program, contact Rachel Suskovich at the Indiana Diaper Bank at 9511 Angola Ct., Suite #221, Indianapolis, IN 46268, 317.855.0533.