“I’ll never forget how thankful she was. It was a truly beautiful experience.”
Meagan Johnson taught cloth diaper basics in Milwaukee for a couple years, but in spring 2020 met a mom that would shift her trajectory.
“She was a single mom of a baby boy, and she couldn’t afford the start-up cost of cloth diapering,” Meagan said. “But, her baby had severe eczema, and disposable diapers made it worse.”
The mother was looking for someone willing and able to donate cloth diapers to her. Meagan said she had a “large collection” of diapers herself, so she compiled a kit and dropped them off on the family’s front porch.
“Her gratitude and the relief she felt was overwhelming,” Meagan said. “She felt a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders, because now she wouldn’t have to worry about budgeting for diapers, and most importantly, her son’s skin could now heal.”
This memorable experience inspired Meagan to dig deeper into diaper need. In Milwaukee, the poverty rate in 2020 was 25.4 percent, while the national average sat at 9.2 percent, she said. The hard truth was that 68% of families with children in Milwaukee qualify for low-income status, and there were not resources to meet diapering needs..
“I decided to launch a small cloth diaper lending program, but when I started looking for a local diaper bank to partner with – there wasn’t one,” Meagan said. “After that realization, and doing a lot of research about diaper banks around the country – I knew this needed to be something bigger.”
That’s why Meagan launched the Milwaukee Diaper Mission, one of Jake’s newest Network of Hope partners. The program distributes disposable and reusable diaper and period product kits through a handful of community partners.
“The majority of the families we serve are Black and Latinx, and most are living well below the poverty line,” Meagan said. “Access to basic needs items was already difficult for these families, and the pandemic has made it even more of a challenge. Families are regularly having to choose between food or diapers, and government assistance programs do not offer diapering support. With 1 in 3 families struggling to afford diapers, and 1 in 4 menstruating individuals unable to afford period products, we are an essential organization for this city.”
Jake’s sent its first shipment to Milwaukee Diaper Mission in early 2021.
“We just received a large shipment today and we cannot wait to get them out into the community! Thank you so much for this amazing support,” Meagan said.