How one community project inspired a transformed community
By Erin Aldridge & Tawny Stottlemire
Throughout our history, Junior League of Topeka (JLT) projects have been a catalyst for change in our community. Ideas spark and gaps in service are filled through these programs and initiatives. The Diaper Depot’s impact is no different.
In the 2018-2019 League year, Diaper Depot ownership was transferred to Community Action. As a distribution partner for the program, the fit was natural and complemented their existing social service assistance programs.
Today, Community Action continues to serve between 150 and 200 children each month, by providing a free pack of 50, size-appropriate, diapers to parents from low-income households. The program is supported solely through community donations and grants.
But, gaps in services go far beyond just diapers.
Through the partnership with the National Diaper Bank Network, Community Action sourced ways to further meet the needs of the community. This lead to a partnership that created “The Period Pantry”. “The foundation of the two programs is very similar,”
said Tawny Stottlemire, Community Action’s Executive Director. “Diaper Depot and Period Pantry allow us to address two very pressing needs for lower income mothers and menstruators.” According to data released by the Alliance for Period Supplies, an affiliate of the National Diaper Bank Network, one in four women have struggled to purchase period supplies in the past year. “Menstruation supplies are a need,” says Stottlemire, “not a luxury.”
In 2020, JLT members supported various projects, including Community Action, around the community through the creation of Period Packs.
Thanks to Community Action’s access to warehouse space, even more options became available. “Community Action rents space in a local warehouse to store and prepare our monthly diaper distribution and quarterly Period Pantry work,” Stottlemire told JLT representatives. “Because we have some available warehouse space, we are also able to participate in a product donation program with our local Bed, Bath and Beyond store.”
According to Stottlemire, Bed, Bath and Beyond provides a monthly donation of store products that range from bed sheets and pillows to curtains, clocks and candles. Community Action uses the products to help families transitioning from homelessness to furnish their homes. “Our customers have been so very appreciative, and surprised,” said Stottlemire, “by not only securing their own housing in a place they can afford and feel safe but to also have a few comforts to make it feel like a home.”
To learn more about how you can benefit from any of these services visit www.wefightpoverty.org.
Going beyond the surface needs of our community, the Junior League of Topeka is committed to continuing to find and the fill gaps to create a better Topeka for all.