NEW PROVIDENCE — Many Americans might not realize it, but one in three families in the United States experience “diaper need,” a situation when underprivileged families are unable to afford diapers and essential newborn supplies.
Based in Plainfield and an affiliate organization of the National Diaper Bank, MHM is headed by organization founder and Executive Director Bridget Cutler.
“We distribute diapers, clothing, wipes, hygiene items, basically anything that is essential for a baby be able to be safe and thrive,” said Cutler.
MHM primarily serves low income families with children ages 0-5, explained Cutler. The organization also provides clothing to the older children along with providing menstrual supplies for mothers.
The non-profit has a charitable reach that touches every county in New Jersey. They work directly with social services agencies, homeless shelters, schools and police departments who get diapers and other items directly to those in need, said Cutler.
This mission brought MHM to the parking lot of the New Providence Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Sept. 26. Cutler was on hand to oversee the diaper drive and continue with her organization’s mission to collect thousands of donations for National Diaper Need Awareness Week.
Before the event kicked off, Cutler spoke about her organization’s origins. MHM was born out of her garage in Hoboken where she was living at the time.
“I had a lot of friends that were new moms and had things they didn’t need,” said Cutler.
Driven by a desire to get items to those in need, she went on to collect diapers and infant items to donate, but couldn’t find an organization in New Jersey.
“So, I had all this stuff and I said I can’t keep it, so I essentially did a drive outside my driveway in Hoboken,” she said.
Since MHM’s humble beginnings, the non-profit hasn’t looked back. MHM was officially founded in 2011. And just last month MHM donated their 1 millionth diaper.
400,000 of those diapers came in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. MHM members and volunteers braved the pandemic and continued collecting and providing essential newborn items for New Jersey families in need.
On Sept. 26, Cutler was not only joined by fellow MHM members, but local elected officials as well. This included New Providence Mayor Al Morgan and Union County Freeholder Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded. Both spoke to volunteers and even lent a helping hand collecting boxes of diaper donations.
“Just talking to the other women here, the need is tremendous. Especially in Union County, our need for food, housing and essential supplies has grown so tremendously during COVID -19 that of course the needs for diapers and wipes has increased as well,” said Palmieri-Mouded. “I’m so proud to support an organization like this. They work with 12 of our local Union County agencies serving persons in need.”
Reflecting on the community he serves, Mayor Morgan commended the efforts of the New Providence community for being an integral part of the diaper drive.
“New Providence has always been a community with a big heart. When anyone is in need, whether it be an individual, a family or a group of people we always come together and help,” said Morgan.
Diaper shortages can have grave consequences for babies that can lead to rashes, infections and emergency room visits when the problem becomes worse, said MHM Board Member Julienne Cherry.
Cherry has extensive experience working for non-profits including serving as the Director of Agency Relations at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside.
“I’ve heard so many stories where mothers have left diapers on their child because they only have one to two diapers a day,” said Cherry.
She also estimated that newborn babies could go through anywhere from 8-10 diapers a day.
Daycare facilities require moms to provide diapers for their children. If they are unable to procure childcare and in effect cannot work, the problem only gets worse, said Cherry.
Organizations like MHM in the National Diaper Bank Network are not standing idly by.
“Every year they have a week when they lobby for diaper awareness,” said Cherry. Specifically, this means “more federal funding for access to diapers.”
The goal is to get federal money to aid local non-profits to help “close the gaps,” said Cherry.
“On a national level, the National Diaper Bank is lobbying to bring diaper need to the attention of lawmakers and procure federal aid to support local organizations,” said Cherry.
As of Saturday's diaper drive, we collected 23,250 diapers. But our virtual drive is still active until September, 30, said Cutler.