From PEP to the Diaper Program: Shalonda tells us how she found her place at Bread!
Hi, I’m Shalonda Carr, and I’m Bread for the City’s Diaper Coordinator at the SE Center. I started this job about 8 months ago. I was a graduate of BFC’s Pre-Employment Program (PEP) and started in this position as an intern.
To give you a bit of my personal story, I came to PEP because I was nosy! My god-sister was just so excited about this program that I decided to tag along with her. It was a match from day one. How could I perform on a job interview when I was walking around with so much baggage? How could I sell myself when I was so lost? Somewhere I’d lost my niche in life and PEP helped me find it back. They don’t promise you a job, but they guide you in the right direction and their workforce program empowers you to get on the internet and search for a job yourself.
When I graduated last September and the Diaper Program internship turned up I was more than happy to join the team. It’s been a great experience so far. The Diaper Room is open two days a week; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM and parents don’t need an appointment to come in. Our clients receive a total of 50 diapers per household each month. We also offer our clients other baby needs, including milk, formula, nipples, pacifiers, bottles, baby shampoo, baby wash, baby lotion, baby clothes, cribs, walkers, strollers, even car seats, and so much more. Everything is contingent upon availability, but it’s a great feeling to be able to offer that parent or guardian what they need to take care of a child. That is part of the reason why I love my job so much.
I had no idea of the need that was out there; the stories and the situations that I’ve heard since stepping into these shoes have been powerful. If you don’t have a caring heart then Bread for the City is not for you. The volume of clients we see varies daily. I can see up 70 to 80 families a day with sometimes even two or three kids each.
Everything is 100% donated. We get supplies from our donors, but most of our supplies are donated by the DC Diaper Bank in Silver Spring, Maryland. We receive 10,000 diapers per month, in sizes from newborns to pull-ups. Newborns up to two-years-old are the popular sizes, but we can go up ages 7 or 8, and adult diapers in men and women designs. We do tend to run out of the older kids’ diapers faster and we sometimes have in-kind support drives. That is really to catch up with the demand in between deliveries from the Diaper Bank.
When clients come in with specific needs that we don’t have on hand (for example, a stroller) I’ll put a request in with the Diaper Bank, and the majority of the time we get the client need filled. When that request is successful and we’re able to fill that need it’s such a joyful experience. You can see that parent’s eyes light up and my heart just sings all day.
Recently, the Diaper Bank collaborated with us to conduct an anonymous survey of client needs. They asked questions like “How many days each month do you feel that you don’t have enough diapers?” and “How long have you been getting diapers from Bread for the City?” The response was so overwhelming we had to keep printing extras. My hope is that the results from this survey allow us to be able to help parents out there even more.
BFC’s Diaper Room is made possible by support from the DC Diaper Bank.