How BabiesNow! Foundation set out to make a difference for Colorado families
As BabiesNow! Foundation celebrates our 10th birthday this year, I wanted to take a moment to share the history of the organization and where our story began. BabiesNow! Foundation got started when a group of Denver area women recognized a need in the midst of the Great Recession. This is how it happened.
My dear husband, Richard, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. During his battle, he not only urged me to do something meaningful after caregiving — but he insisted on it. In March of 2008, I was changing my baby granddaughter’s diaper, and my daughter commented how expensive diapers were. That was the spark of an idea.
I said to Richard, maybe I could start a nonprofit that would find a way to give mothers and families in need diapers for their babies. I realized that diapers were NOT covered by food stamps or any other government assistance program. He thought that would be a great idea.
Richard passed away in May 2008. My daughter encouraged me to fill out the application for a 501(C)(3) in August, and I told her that I was not ready. The fog of depression still surrounded me. She said that in the post 9-11 world, it takes a long time to receive a nonprofit designation. Since she was my lawyer as well, I applied. In December 2008, I received the 501(c)(3) for BabiesNow! Foundation. With such a simple mission, the IRS approved the application in record time.
In February 2009, in the very depth of the Great Recession, I hosted a luncheon and invited about 20 friends to attend. I shared with them the idea for BabiesNow! Foundation, and they all encouraged me to go forward. By that fall, we had a Board of Directors, by-laws and insurance — and off we were! These women understood that during normal times — not to mention during the Recession — teen mothers, low-income families and those who were unemployed struggled to afford rent, utilities and food — let alone diapers.
Diaper need affects an estimated 1 in 3 U.S. families. That means 1 in 3 families can’t afford enough diapers to keep their baby clean, dry and healthy. Babies without clean diapers are more vulnerable to painful rashes and urinary tract infections; they often cry and fuss more, which is linked to an increase in child abuse and depression in mothers. Among those in need, 3 in 5 report missing work or school because they can’t afford the diapers required to leave their baby in childcare.
BabiesNow! Foundation set out to collaborate with nonprofit organizations, hospitals and government agencies to assist mothers/families experiencing diaper need. Organizations apply for monetary grants through BabiesNow! Foundation and use the grants to purchase diapers and wipes. What makes our mission unique is that we require the diapers and wipes be used as an incentive for clients to participate in programs that benefit their babies, and promote positive parenting and self-sufficiency. For example, when a mother and/or father participate in childbirth or parenting classes, they are given a package of diapers and wipes. Or when a mother brings her child to a scheduled well-baby checkup, she is sent home with diapers and wipes. Other examples include providing diapers as an incentive for parents who complete substance-abuse and drug rehabilitation counseling, attend GED classes, finish their education, or participate in developmental research sessions. In structuring our grants this way, there are multiple benefits to the baby, family and community. Click here to see a list of our grant beneficiaries and their programs.
BabiesNow! Foundation is the only organization of our kind in the country that uses diapers as incentives to increase participation in programs – and it works. Since they began offering diapers as an incentive, BabiesNow! beneficiary Children’s Hospital Colorado says attendance at their labor and delivery, newborn and breastfeeding classes through the Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program (CAMP) has increased dramatically.
BabiesNow! Foundation is 100 percent volunteer-run, so every donation goes directly to providing diapers and wipes to babies in need. Over the past 10 years, contributions from our generous supporters have allowed BabiesNow! to provide more than 1.2 million diapers to Denver-area families. On behalf of BabiesNow!, thank you for your continued support to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable babies in need. Here’s to the next 10 years!
-Roberta Greengard, Founder of BabiesNow! Foundation