Lake County, Ill. — One in three families in the United States experiences diaper need, and a local mother is working to close the gap and making sure babies in her lake county community are clean, dry and healthy.
Ann Marie Mathis, one of Chicago’s Very Own, said she knows parenting is hard, but it’s even worse when someone lacks the basics.
Mathis is a mother of seven and knows firsthand the dent the price of diapers can make in your wallet. She said it can cost about $70 to $80 a month. She said it’s an expense many families struggling financially simply cannot afford.
“Many safety net programs do not cover diapers, WIC and SNAP food stamps, those are food based programs so you can’t use those programs to purchase diapers, and currently there is no state or federal programs to assist with diaper need,” Mathis said.
Mathis is also the founder of Twice As Nice Mother & Child. The nonprofit has been donating children’s clothing and baby gear to local families since 2010. But after witnessing the increasing need for diapers in her community, she decided to expand the organization to include diaper distribution.
"We started diapers in 2014, that’s when we joined the National Diaper Bank Network which is a network of over 200 diaper banks around the country and we all work together to keep children, clean dry and healthy,” she said.
In just five years, Twice As Nice has donated 1.3 million diapers to families in the Lake County area, with nearly 600,000 donated this year alone.
In 2018, Mathis and her team of volunteers began taking the diaper bank to the streets, with a mobile diaper pantry. Parents who register for the program can pick up diapers directly twice a month.
“As a mom, I can’t imagine being in that position, you know? What would you do? If you use your last diaper and don’t have a way to get more?” she said.
Romesha Davis is a mother of three children, two still in diapers. She found out about the program from a friend.
“There are a lot of single parents who need the help. I think it’s awesome that she came up with this idea,” she said.
With fundraising, grants and donations, Mathis keeps the expenses low, but it’s a family effort. Her husband Mike donated a portion of his company’s warehouse to store the pallets of diapers and Mathis donates her time. She does not take a salary, so everything she does is purely volunteer work.
“There’s limited resources for free diapers and there is limited help for people that need it,” Mathis said. “I think just being able to provide that makes a huge difference.”
If you would like to learn more about the program, you can visit twiceasnicemc.org.