Bare-Bottom Basics

Imagine using an old t-shirt, duct-taped together, as a makeshift diaper for your child.
Imagine having to choose between buying food or diapers for your child.

Sadly, for many Kansas City-area families, obtaining everyday necessities is an everyday struggle. In Missouri alone, a child is born into poverty every 31 minutes.

Unfortunately, such fundamental needs as diapers are not met or addressed through social assistance programs such as WIC (Women Infants and Children) or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) because they are considered hygiene items.

Enter HappyBottoms, the Kansas City area’s only diaper bank.

“Growing babies need a supply of clean diapers to help prevent infection and maintain good health,” says Liz Sutherlin, executive director for HappyBottoms. “It is not uncommon for babies of low-income families to be left in a diaper for an entire day or longer, or for parents to re-use a disposable diaper, leading to possible urinary tract or skin infections.”
In the six counties that HappyBottoms serves, more than 15,000 children need diaper assistance.

“While it may not be realistic to reach all of them with our diapers, our goal is to reach as many as possible,” says Sutherlin, who notes the organization provided diapers to 148 children in April 2011 and 892 children in September 2012.

At an average need of eight to 10 diapers a day and at a cost of $80 to $100 per month, many may question why low-income families don’t turn to cloth diapers.

The reality is that cloth diaper service is expensive. Furthermore, many low-income families rely on Laundromats which typically prohibit washing cloth diapers for sanitary reasons.

This leads to a difficult situation for both the parents and babies at the core of HappyBottoms’ diligent mission.

To achieve its goals of assistance, the organization relies on monetary donations, diaper donations, donated warehouse space, partner agencies for distribution and a committed army of volunteers, notably its board of directors.

WDAF Fox 4 News reporter Tess Koppelman is one of the newest members of HappyBottoms’ board of directors.

“I am not a PR person, but I am a reporter,” says Koppelman, who came on board as the communications chair in August 2012. “I deal with a lot of PR people so I know what it takes to pitch a good story and how to build a list of contacts. I’m just trying to do my part to expand awareness of the diaper need in our community.”

Sutherlin says that the addition of board members who can help secure funding for operations is critical to HappyBottoms’ success.

In October 2012, Bob Parker, CPA and partner at Overland Park-based TPP Certified Public Accountants, joined HappyBottoms to help in a financial capacity.

HappyBottoms to Host its First-Ever Fundraiser

A Thanks Giving Event

WHEN: Thursday, November 8th,
Happy Hour 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

WHERE: Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, Mo. 64108

COST: $10 Suggested Donation

“When asked to join the board, I happily accepted as I saw it as an opportunity to support a need in the community along with helping the Sutherlin family with an organization they had become devoted to,” said Parker.

“My primary role will be to assist the finance committee with planning for the financial growth of HappyBottoms and to coordinate its year-end financial and tax reporting requirements.”

For Sutherlin, the journey to help others is ongoing.

“This problem can be solved,” Sutherlin says. “We don’t need to find a cure, do research or hire expensive experts to figure this out. We need community support through donations, corporate sponsors, volunteers and additional board members to meet the needs of these families.” 

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