Editor’s note: Through the 2010 Combined Fund Drive campaign, UW Today will spotlight agencies that receive CFD funds. The theme of this year’s drive, which will run through Dec. 3, is “Imagine the Difference We Can Make.”
St. Josephs Baby Corner provides diapers, formula, car seats, soap, shampoo and more to families its staff never meets in person.
“Its double-blind, so that the people who need help and the people who are giving help never know each other,” said Jeannie Jaybush, executive director. “It protects the identities of the recipient as well as the donor.”
Those recipients are hundreds of low-income mothers and families throughout the greater King County area. St. Josephs Baby Corner, a Combined Fund Drive choice for UW and other state employees, was founded in 1988 by Jaybush and her associate Renee Leet, and operates mainly on private donations.
“Its an independent, nonprofit and the first of its kind in the country — a charity just for babies,” Jaybush said. The agencys slogan is “Changing the world one diaper at a time.”
The organizations website states: “Every year, more families slip into the ranks of the working poor. They love their children but cannot afford the most basic necessities — diapers, car seats, formula, clothing, portacribs, blankets. Since 1988 the Baby Corner has been providing these essential items to families living in poverty … for 2,500 infants and toddlers, that means a safer, healthier start in life. For their parents, it means hope.”
The effects of the recession are clear. “More and more now, we are receiving requests for people who have college educations and advanced degrees and are unemployed and cant afford to support themselves,” Jaybush said, “And the baby still needs diapers and has to be fed — it goes on and on.”
St. Josephs supplements benefits such as food that families receive from other sources. “Its one thing to provide formula, but if you dont have a bottle or nipple, what good is it?” Jaybush said. “So we are constantly being asked for both the nipples and bottle brushes. No baby should have to live with one bottle and one nipple.”
Even small donations can mean a lot, Jaybush said. Just fifteen dollars “would buy six 8-ounce bottles, the nipples and bottle brushes to keep them clean.” Five dollars buys a large tube of diaper rash ointment. “If the nurse has it in hand she can teach the mom how to use it, but if you just tell her to go out and buy it the education is wasted. So we put it in her hand.”
Most of the clients are social service or community health organizations. “What theyll do is, theyll call me with information on a baby (and its needs) and then they will take (the items) to the baby, so the mom isnt schlepping around trying to find one thing here and one thing there.”
Jaybush said she got the idea for the agency when she saw “babies being born in Seattle and being sent out the front door in disposable diapers” with few supplies. “In December it can be cold! I lifted my hand and said, ‘You cant do that, theyll be back in 48 hours and theyll have pneumonia. Their responsibility ends at the front door; I want to know what happens when (babies) go through that door.”
She said some wondered if theyd last weeks, not to mention years. “I said I will open the door and answer the phone — and people just kept coming,” Jaybush said. And the organization has been going strong ever since. “I just never learned how to say no.”
The agency is located at Broadway and Madison in Seattles First Hill neighborhood, and has a sister organization in Issaquah called Eastside Baby Corner.
You can learn more about the Combined Fund Drive and the agencies it supports — and sign up to donate — online at the CFD Website.