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Sweet Charity: Blogging LA’s Guide To Giving-Help A Mother Out

December 18, 2010 in Holidays, LA, Seasonal, Social issues

When you think about “helping the poor and homeless” the concept can be so huge and in some ways abstract that it’s hard to know where to start. Food? Shelter? Clothing? Medical care? Education? Training programs? It’s overwhelming. For me, Help A Mother Out is so specific that it makes it so easy to make a difference.

The facts are these: Diapers and baby wipes are not covered under social safety net programs like WIC and food stamps. And diapers are expensive. And you need a lot of them every day. Poor and homeless families often have to decide between food, rent and diapers. Babies can go without a clean diaper for days, leading to health problems for the baby and more stress for the family.

Help A Mother Out is working to bridge the gap and provide diapers for those in need. While HAMO is based in San Francisco, they have an LA/SoCal branch run by the amazing and tireless Kim Tracy Prince. Along with being a working mom of two, Kim makes time to organize diaper drives and raise awareness of this growing problem.

Earlier this week I attended the final day of the Glendale diaper drive. (I had written about it in November.) A variety of groups, along with Help A Mother Out worked to raise 22,833 diapers in two weeks. Awesome! At the Glendale armory, over 16,000 diapers (I helped count) were there for an official photo and then to be distributed to specific organizations that would hand them out to families who needed them. The overall event was for homeless awareness in general and we handed out diapers to homeless moms with their kids right then and there.

I was particularly touched as I helped a woman who works for Door Of Hope in Glendale. Door of Hope is a transitional housing organization to help homeless families get back on their feet. This dedicated woman specifically works with battered and abused women and children who have left bad situations, sometimes with almost nothing but the clothes on their backs. She had a list of the 11 babies (newborn to toddlers) currently living there who needed diapers. One of the moms was going through chemo and had a one year old. The Door Of Hope woman asked me, “Do you think I could get two boxes of diapers for her?” It was all I could do to A) not burst into tears and B) not put all the diapers you see above in her car.

So this holiday season or even in the New Year — it doesn’t matter when, because there is always a need — please consider donating money or diapers to Help A Mother out. Go to their website and find the “Donate Now” button or if you have diapers you want to drop off in person, click here to find out how to do that. And you can donate diapers online. Click here to find out how.

Every baby deserves a clean diaper!

And if you are wondering about cloth diapers, here is the info about that from the HAMO website:

Our greatest need is for disposable diapers (traditional brand or eco-friendly). However, we gratefully accept NEW cloth pocket diaper kits, similiar to Econobum diaper kits, for distribution to a small percentage of the families we serve. Why? For the vast majority of our partner’s clients, cloth diapers are not a realistic option. We recommend reading the Diaper Divide as a primer on this debate. The Cloth Diaper Foundation is a nonprofit organization that primarily helps families in need get started with cloth diapering, and they accept donations of new and gently used cloth diapers.

(And yes, I put my money where my blog post is. I have personally donated about 1000 diapers this year.)

The 2010 Nice List: Help A Mother Out

December 1, 2010 in Social issues

Help A Mother Out is a non-profit organization started in Northern California by two moms, Lisa Truong and Rachel Fudge, in March of 2009. They had a desire to help after learning how the economic crisis was hurting families and how babies were going without clean diapers. With $100 and the power of social media, they did an initial diaper drive and raised over 15,000 diapers! Almost two years later, there are HAMO chapters in Arizona, Washington and an LA chapter to help create awareness of the problem and to raise money and diapers for those most in need. The LA chapter is run by Kim Tracy Prince who volunteers her time and energy to get the word out and to get diapers in the hands of families who desperately need them.

What puts HAMO on the Nice List for me is the grassroots nature of women helping women. Two moms saw a problem and took it upon themselves to try and do something about it. They then inspired other moms to volunteer and open chapters in other places. Even while worrying they are not doing enough, what they have achieved in such a short time is amazing! Since May 2009, HAMO has donated over 431,000 diapers. Huggies became a sponsor in 2010 and created the Every Little Bottom program. Huggies has now donated 11 million diapers and are halfway to their goal of 22 million. That is NICE!

If you ever feel the desire to help someone, to solve a problem, to DO something, HAMO is the perfect inspiration to show you that you CAN make a difference in people’s lives. If you can, spread some of that nice-ness and donate some diapers to babies who need them!

Check out the website at Help A Mother Out.

Today kicks off a two week diaper drive in Glendale. As I wrote last week, and you can make a difference to those in need, especially during the holidays, by donating diapers or money to the Glendale specific agencies that are sponsoring this drive. Click here to donate diapers online (via PATH Achieve Glendale). Click here to find a diaper drop off location in LA.

Pocket Parks: Culver West-Alexander in Culver City

August 31, 2010 in culver city, FEATURED, LA, Maps, Sports

If you look at a map of Culver City, you’ll see there is an arm that reaches to the Pacific Ocean. This is “Culver West” and it’s nestled between Mar Vista and Marina Del Rey.

There is a sweet gem in that arm called Culver West-Alexander Park and if you are in the neighborhood and looking for a great spot to spend an afternoon, you will love this one.

I remember this park from the very early 90′s as I used to work in the Marina. The big field seen here used to have a baseball diamond and one year I spent many an early morning practicing softball with our company team. (Go Hurlers!) Even without a baseball diamond, you can NOT get bored at this park. I dare you!

There are basketball and tennis courts, BBQ pits and picnic tables, tons of jungle gyms and swings and even a community center. If you are a Westsider, check this spot out, bring the kids and grandparents and a big picnic. You never know what you’ll see here.

How to get there (click on the image to go to the Google Map):

You want sports? We got sports!  One tennis and two paddle tennis courts (this is where my honey and I play a lot.)

Here’s a close up of the mural at the end of the tennis court. It’s like being inside Wii Tennis!

In case you were wondering:

And also:

This happy mural greets  you when you park on Moore street. Handball courts (three) are here on the backside of the tennis court.

Wider shot of Basketball and handball courts with informal running path in front.

Close on the Mural at the Basketball court:

Plenty of stuff for the kids to clamber over and around:

And when it’s time to eat, there are plenty of shady spots to spread out and grill up some yummy picnic food.

There is plenty of parking on Moore Street and also in a small lot near the jungle gym/tennis court side of the park.

Alas, Fido will need to stay on the designated path. But it’s a sweet path!

And if you need to just chill in a grassy, shady spot, there is plenty of that too.

Read more about Richard Alexander, after whom the park was named. (Click picture for bigger version.)

Stop by some time! It’s a gorgeous little park and it’s all yours.

Big Diaper Donation To Women’s Shelter At The LA Mission

July 9, 2010 in Downtown, Social issues, Twitter

Last Thursday morning the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission received a donation of 40,000 diapers from Huggies through their new program called Every Little Bottom. Huggies is working with Help A Mother Out (HAMO) and other diaper donation resources to distribute up to 2.5 million diapers around the US and Canada right now. Later in the year, they will donate an additional 20 million diapers. 20 million!

Every day between 15 and 30 moms and dads come to the Anne Douglas Center in downtown LA to receive free diapers for their kids. Diapers and wipes are not covered under Food Stamps and WIC programs, leaving poor families in often horrible positions about whether to spend money on food or rent or diapers. 1 in 3 moms (and dads) struggle to provide diapers for their kids. Diapers can be so scarce that a parent will wash out a disposable diaper and use it again.

I was honored to help distribute diapers on Thursday at the Douglas Center with the HAMO representative in Los Angeles, Kim Tracy Prince. Other LA bloggers, Sarah (Mar Vista Mom),  Catalina (Catalina in LA) and Tania (Pure Natural Diva) were there as well to help spread the word about the need for diapers in LA.  We got to meet and speak to some of the moms who came in. Kenya arrived first with her two very sweet and sleepy kids, Jeremiah and Ja’niyha.

A short time later another mom came in. She needed a larger size for her daughter and we only had four diapers in that size (more are coming next week). We apologized profusely for only having four and she said, “That’s four that I didn’t have.”

The Anne Douglas Center will take your diaper donations any time. Just drive to the loading dock at rear of the Mission and they will receive what you have and give you a “gift in kind” receipt. They could really use larger sized diapers — size 4 and 5. Wipes are also very important, if you can add them to a donation. If you can’t make it down to the Los Angeles Mission to donate, you can visit the HAMO website to find various ways to donate online.

The Anne Douglas Center for Women is an amazing place, helping women in need in many ways.  I will tell you about that in another post. For now, if you can, please Help A Mother Out! Every Little Bottom needs diapering.

If you have the very common question of “what about cloth diapers?” please read this excellent article about cloth and disposable diapers for people in need right here.

Los Angeles Mission
303 East Fifth Street
Downtown Los Angeles

Anne Douglas Center for Women

If you want to read the diaper needs study that Huggies conducted, you can read that whole document here.

Thanks to the LA Bloggers for spreading the word! (Sorry Tania, I missed you somehow!)