Jamie Lackey identified a barrier: You can’t get childcare without diapers, and without childcare you can’t go to work. A social worker by training and a mother herself, Lackey was compelled to found Helping Mamas out of her garage in 2014. “It just seemed like there had to be a way to coordinate those efforts to get these items to women and children that need them,” says Lackey.
Diapers have always been expensive—about $900 to $1,000 per year, which can constitute a substantial amount of a low-income family’s earnings, says Lackey—and now post-pandemic inflation has made them that much harder for parents in need to obtain. Public assistance programs like WIC and SNAP don’t cover diapers, which creates a gap that Lackey and her team fill at Helping Mamas by working with more than 150 partner organizations, including hospitals, schools, and nonprofits (like Wellspring Living), to distribute diapers. Helping Mamas hosts distribution events at community centers throughout the state, and last year donated more than one million diapers.
Helping Mamas grew organically. Lackey’s mom friends were quick to help, and it gained momentum from there. The moment she felt everything truly coming together was when Helping Mamas moved out of her garage and into a physical building. It proved to be a game changer, as it allowed volunteers to help on-site and for Helping Mamas to receive large shipments of diapers and donations.
To those who want to act on a cause by which they feel moved, Lackey says they have to take a risk on themselves. “Then I would say, second to that, is surround yourself with people that can help move you forward,” she says. “Find the people that know the things you don’t know. Find those people in your community and get them engaged early on, so they can help you grow.”