Over 27,000 Diapers Collected and Distributed by Berkshire Community Diaper Project!
by Aaron Beatty
In 2014, Megan V. Smith, DrPH, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, gave a talk on diaper need, highlighting evidence that lack of access to diapers has a profound effect on mother and child health, leading to increased problems with infection and illness in children, depression in mothers and interference with mother-child bonding in infancy. As it turns out, a few audience members at her talk were moved to action.
Inspired by and in response to Dr. Smith’s talk on diaper need, the Berkshire Community Diaper Project (BCDP) was formally organized in the fall of 2014 by Marie Rudden MD, training analyst at the Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute and associate faculty at the Austen Riggs Center; Jane Tillman, PhD, a psychologist and director of the Erikson Institute at the Austen Riggs Center; and Elizabeth Weinberg, MD, a psychiatrist at the Austen Riggs Center, with the goal of “raising funds to provide diapers for parents who struggle to afford them for their children” as stated on their Facebook page.
Not even a year into its existence, the success of the BCDP has greatly exceeded its founders’ expectations; over 27,000 diapers in donations have been collected and distributed, thanks to the generous support of and partnerships with many local individuals, businesses and organizations. Some of the many highlights include:
- Diaper drives at SABIC Corporation that yielded a donation of over 6000 diapers
- A diaper drive at Henry's Electric in Lee - those who donated were entered to win a Whirlpool dishwasher
- Highly successful diaper drives at: Berkshire Country Day School, St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge; Grace Episcopal Church and Dalton Elementary School in Lee; and Onyx Specialty Papers in Lee
- The establishment of diaper donation sites at: West Stockbridge and Stockbridge Post Offices, St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Stockbridge and Berkshire Nautilus in Pittsfield
- Local media coverage initiatives resulting in local radio and television appearances and editorials in local papers
- Over $2000 in additional donations
The seriousness and intractable nature of diaper need is often drastically underestimated. Food stamps and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) funds cannot be used for diapers, there are no major public health funding efforts directed toward this problem and lack of access to diapers can affect whether a child can attend preschool, whether a parent can use childcare and how a new mother copes with raising an infant. In light of these realities, the BCDP is working hard to educate others about the diaper need that exists in Berkshire County and to help alleviate the local need.
For further reading on the Berkshire Community Diaper Project:
- Visit the Berkshire Community Diaper Project’s Facebook page for more information including diaper drop off locations and how to donate.
- Read a Berkshire Eagle article about the Berkshire Community Diaper Project.
- Read a Berkshire Eagle Letter to the Editor written by S. Daltrey Turner, LICSW, clinical social worker at the Austen Riggs Center and volunteer with the Berkshire Community Diaper Project.
- Watch Megan V. Smith, DrPH, give a talk at Riggs about the importance of providing diapers to mothers.