My introduction to the cloth diapering community began in January 2011 in a Cloth Diaper Sewing forum on babycenter.com.
I fell in love with sewing cloth diapers and soon opened my own shop selling them. After a year of selling cloth diapers, however, I came to realize that my ultimate goal was not to sell cloth diapers. What I really wanted was to help families get started using cloth, and to help them continue to use cloth successfully despite any obstacles they might encounter.
I found my niche as a Real Diaper Circle Leader, teaching cloth 101 classes and helping troubleshoot in my circle’s Facebook group. But there was still something missing, somewhere I could take my passion for helping others use cloth.
Cloth for Everybum was born from that passion, and finding that there was a very real need for a cloth diaper lending program in my local area. My friends and I in Southeast Georgia founded Cloth for Everybum, beginning to collect donations in February 2012 and distributing to our first families in May 2012.
After just over one year of operations at our original site, in September of 2013 we decided to go National, and began opening satellite sites in early 2014. By doing so, I had not only found a target for my passion, but had expanded it exponentially, by teaching others to teach, and implement, the programs and methods I had already determined to be the most effective at helping more families get into cloth.
I am very pleased to announce that as of July 2014, Cloth for Everybum, Inc. is now a National 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
I would like to take this opportunity to send out my most humble thanks and gratitude to all of the Cloth for Everybum Site Managers, who manage their sites with dedication and perseverance. Without every single one of them, Cloth for Everybum would not be what it is today, helping so many families successfully use cloth diapers. These are: Luann Wells in Hinesville, Samantha Gibson in Savannah, Tracy McGregor in Augusta, Cindy Dana and Marianna Slaughter in Atlanta, Krystle Freeman in Warner Robins, Katelyn Wells in El Paso, and our newest Site Manager Erin Sychertz in Fayetteville, NC.
I would also like to take this opportunity, graciously granted to me by Nissa of the Cloth Diaper Guru and Julie of The Cloth Diaper Geek, to highlight some of the things that make Cloth for Everybum unique among the cloth diaper bank industry.
1. We are like Goodwill, for diapers.
Many of the donations that are given to us do not get put directly into kits, or given directly into the hands of our recipients.
We screen all donations, and any that need repairs we send to our seamstress volunteers to fix. Each site has local connections with at least one WAHM or mom with a sewing machine on her kitchen table.
Of course, there is such thing as diapers that are completely dead, those that are delaminated. But it’s not just play condition diapers that we see in our collection boxes! Oftentimes, we are donated gorgeous, brand-name diapers in excellent condition, and we do sell those in order to fund our program and our kits.
One Sloomb wool cover at $60 can buy us 20 JC trade pocket diapers, so 1 for 20 is a no-brainer: we sell the Sloomb. Our ultimate goal is to get as many families out of disposable diapers and into reuseable diapers as we can, and in order to do so we sadly cannot logically maintain an idealistic U.S.-made, locally sustainable buying culture. It has been a long, internal battle waged in our hearts, but change in that arena is outside of the scope of our program. We have to do what makes sense, and what is friendly to our small, non-profit budget,
So, when we are donated diapers, you may see them up on the for-sale page a day later. That does not mean we are lining our pockets with cash and fluff! It means we are maximizing our resources to help as many families as we possibly can.
1. Local-only sites
Our sites may only serve their own site city and within a 2 hour driving radius from that site city.
The reason for this is because we know that there are many, many families having babies in our own hometown, right? There is no lack of babies anywhere. Before spending valuable funding or requiring shipping costs to ship kits to families who are far away, we would like to reach out to the overabundance of families right here who need our help.
We may have to advertise our program locally a bit more than we would have to otherwise, but that is all part and parcel of our program’s commitment to making ties with and connecting to its local communities.
The mentoring subprogram is something that came about based on a very real need we observed in our kit recipients who were dropping out, i.e. failing and not continuing to use cloth diapers.
In an effort to remedy our drop-out rate, we began training local, experienced cloth diapering mothers who wanted to volunteer for the program, and partnering them with our kit recipients. We immediately saw phenomenal results and an overwhelmingly grateful response from recipients. Our drop-out rate plummeted to next to nothing.
We partner recipients based on the following criteria:
1. Location: the recipient and her mentor should live close by so that they can meet in person and maybe even visit each other’s homes for hands-on help.
2. Similarity: the recipient and her mentor should ideally have babies roughly the same age or at least the same gender. If a recipient is pregnant or has a newborn, her mentor should have experience cloth diapering a newborn.
3. Familiarity: If the recipient and her mentor attend the same MOPs group, church, or their older children are in the same dance class, girl scouts, etc. we would like to partner them together because they will already be seeing each other on a regular basis.
Many of our mentor-mentee partnerships turn into enduring friendships that have outlasted the duration of our lending program.
3. The size of our lending kits
Our lending kits are fairly large. If you were to see one of our kit bags in person you would probably be blown away by the size of it. The dimensions are 30x22inches. You could fit a small child, or two, in the bag!
Our standard kits contain 24 diapers, and our double standard kits (for families with 2 babies 24 months old or younger in cloth) contain 36 cloth diapers. A double standard kit fills up an entire kit bag.
We give this many diapers because one of the complaints about our program during the early months was that we only gave 12 diapers, and this was not enough to cloth diaper full-time. Parents were struggling to keep up with the laundry, and supplementing with disposable diapers.
Since our goal is to assist families to cloth diaper full-time, we increased the size of our kit in order to achieve that. We have seen very positive results since then, with the majority of our recipients reporting using their kit’s cloth diapers full time. Many are not confident enough to use cloth full time from the very start, but by 1 month into the program they have made the transition smoothly with the assistance of enough cloth diapers to last until laundry day.
4. Program duration and graduation
At the beginning of their lending period, all approved applicants are required to attend a 101 class where they will learn everything they need to know about how to use and launder the cloth diapers we are giving them.
The duration of a recipient’s lending period is 6 months, and we did not choose this time period arbitrarily. 6 months is about the length of time it takes for a family to really get used to cloth diapering; for it to become second nature. Throughout 6 months, they may have experienced the most common or basic obstacles and have gone through troubleshooting steps with their mentors.
Our recipients are not permitted to return their kits early, unless their mentor agrees that they are particularly advanced in their cloth diaper knowledge, and may graduate from the program early. Or unless they already own their own completely full stash of cloth diapers, in which case they may return their kit, but will remain a client of our program and we will maintain contact with them via their mentor, until their 6 months are up.
Upon graduation and only after accruing 6 months of experience cloth diapering full time, program graduates are invited to become mentors, so that we can continue recycling knowledge within our community.
I hope that this post has been informative. If there are any other questions regarding how our program works, or why we run things the way we do, I would be happy to answer them in the comments.