This is the third story in a Denver Catholic Register series about archdiocesan ministries and programs funded by the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.
Running an average of $72 a month, or $864 a year, diapers can be one of the largest ongoing expenses for a baby.
“Without a doubt, it’s the biggest expense (for many families),” explained Mark Hahn, volunteer and parish relations coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. “It’s estimated that one in three families struggle to buy diapers; and there are times when parents are forced to choose between buying diapers and buying food.”
To address the issue and help ease stressed family budgets, Catholic Charities is launching a statewide diaper bank to make disposable diapers available, at no cost, to families with young children, as well as adult diapers available to senior citizens.
“There’s such a need,” said Nhung Nielson, chair of the diaper bank committee and a parishioner of Light of the World Church in Littleton. “There are a lot of food banks (but) a diaper bank is unique … it’s a forgotten need for struggling families.”
A study last year found that one in 12 low-income mothers stretch their diaper supply by leaving children in them after they’ve been soiled, which can lead to skin and urinary tract infections. On average infants require up to 12 diapers a day, and toddlers about eight. The study also showed cases of parents reusing disposable diapers (Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, August 2013).
“Obviously reusing diapers can cause health problems, and make children very upset with horrible diaper rash and other problems,” Hahn said. “This can lead to neglect and abuse.”
For children attending day care, most child care centers require parents to bring a supply of diapers. The inability to provide them can impact a parent’s ability to work or go to school. Government assistance programs such as food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) do not cover diapers.
“It’s just so sad,” Nielson said. “Some single moms are embarrassed to ask, they’re embarrassed to admit they can’t afford diapers, they’re embarrassed to admit they’re reusing diapers.”
Maintaining the dignity of those in need is a priority for the volunteer-run bank that already has a small inventory in place at their storage space at St. Rose of Lima Church in Denver. The committee hopes through diaper drives at parishes and schools, as well as corporate sponsorships and donations, to build the inventory to hundreds of thousands.
“We plan for this to be a huge endeavor,” said Nielson.
Diapers will be provided to all Catholic Charities’ ministries that serve pregnant women and new mothers and their families including Respect Life Resources, five locations of Gabriel House, five homeless shelters including Greeley and Fort Collins, six child development centers, the kinship ministry that assists families raising the children of other relatives, foster care and adult senior services. They will also be available to parishes and their surrounding communities.
“It’s not only for Catholics,” said Nielson, “but all members of the community.”
The committee is in the process of formalizing the ministry’s name and logo, and preparing an announcement to be distributed at parishes. For more information, contact Hahn at 720-377-1371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s no telling what the Church can do when she sets her mind to it, according to Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver.
Last year Catholic Charities, the charitable arm of the Church in northern Colorado, extended the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to more than 50,000 poor and otherwise in-need individuals. They plan to build on that foundation and serve even more going forward.
“The goal is to get Catholic Charities more actively engaged with the parishes,” explained Smith. “This will go a long way toward helping those in need, both parishioners and non-parishioners.”
Efforts aim to make it clear and simple for Catholics to find ways to get involved in Charities’ work, such as volunteering and donating to ministries such as food banks, clothing and coat drives, and diaper collections.
“It’s easy to remember that there are those with a need to receive,” Smith said. “Often the need to give is greater. We want to give those who may not know how, the opportunity to give.
“By helping people give, we help them reach salvation.”
For fiscal year 2012-2013 combined operations of Catholic Charities brought in nearly $33.8 million in revenue and income from all sources, including the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.
“The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal provides us with funding for Respect Life Resources, Gabriel House, Lighthouse Women’s Center, and all of our shelters,” Smith said. “The appeal goes to great lengths to support services in northern Colorado, including those beyond the Denver metro area.”
Charities’ Denver shelters include Samaritan House for men, women and families, Father Ed Judy House for women and children, and St. Joseph’s Home for Veterans. Shelters outside the metro area are the Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley and The Mission in Fort Collins.
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Denver
Headquarters:4045 Pecos St., Denver
Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal
Through the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, nearly 40 archdiocesan ministries are supported by donations to the annual campaign. Donations fund ministries created to catechize students, educate seminarians, provide food and shelter to the impoverished, lead the wayward back to the Church and communicate the Gospel message. Archbishop Samuel Aquila chose this year’s theme “Go, therefore, and make disciples” (Matt 28:19) to encourage the faithful to re-evaluate their roles in making disciples. Everyone can be disciples for Christ, he said, either directly or indirectly. Gifts to the appeal are one way the faithful can help make disciples for Christ.
To make a donation
Mail: 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210