"Diapers are something everyone takes for granted," Quintana said. "But the first six months after the twins were born were absolutely crazy. Never in my life could I have predicted the expense of diapers."
With the help of Baby Basics of the Peninsula, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that provides free diapers to working poor families in East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, Quintana's diaper expense was taken care of.
"When you have twins, everything is double the cost. I can't even begin to speak. ... The expense was incredible," said Quintana, whose twins are now 2 years old. "We are very blessed to receive diapers through Baby Basics."
Kim Crockett and Karin Willis founded Baby Basics of the Peninsula in 2006, and by the end of this year, they will have distributed more than 175,000 free diapers to families in need.
"We recognized that East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park are really overlooked and underserved segments of our population in terms of working poor families with babies, so I decided to create a chapter out here with Karin," Crockett said.
Quintana, who lives in Menlo Park, and 19 other working-poor families attend Baby Basic's diaper distributions twice a month at the Arbor Free Clinic in Menlo Park. The clinic is centrally located, and the distributions are scheduled after working hours to make Baby Basics as accessible as possible.
Baby Basics saves families an average of $800 per year, per child.
"In order for a baby to have a healthy upbringing, they need diapers. It's a basic necessity and a health-care essential that isn't subsidized. The cost can break the back of a struggling family," Crockett said.
When Crockett and Willis started Baby Basics, they contacted community agencies to make sure they weren't duplicating an existing service.
"We're actually the only local diaper-distribution program in the area. There is nothing else like Baby Basics, and that's really been a huge motivator for us," Crockett said.
Baby Basics differentiates itself from other family-service organizations in the area by strictly focusing on diapers. There are no overhead costs, and all of the board members are volunteers. Donated money goes toward providing families with diapers, which Baby Basics is able to purchase for a reduced, bulk price.
Crocket says the beauty of the program is in this simplicity.
"The ability to, twice a month, literally hand over what a family needs is extremely gratifying," Crockett described.
Baby Basics has limited resources and currently is only able to serve 20 families in the Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Redwood City area. Thanks to a $2,000 Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund grant, Baby Basics was able to increase its client base by five families in 2011.
Ten to 15 families are on Baby Basics' waiting list, according to Lisa Moody, Baby Basics' referral agent.
However, Crockett said there are at least 1,000 other families in the area that the program could potentially help.
Crockett said she hopes to continue expanding the program and replicate South Boston's Baby Basics, which serves more than 70 families at two distribution sites.
Moody refers many families in the Star Vista Learning Together, a youth and family enrichment services program in San Mateo County, to Baby Basics. She said her referrals are solely based on need.
"Not everyone qualifies, and there is usually a long waiting list, but we do have specific requirements," Moody said.
Baby Basics accepts only working poor families. Moody said these families have incomes below the poverty level but aren't receiving welfare payments. Typically one parent is working, and the family income does not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
Baby Basics focuses on the working poor because, as Crockett described, they are one of the "most overlooked" income level groups.
"We target families who don't qualify for other types of welfare or aid because they're just making enough to make ends meet," Crockett said.
Eligible families also need to have a child under 3 and have to live in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Redwood City.
Only a few weeks ago, Quintana discovered that Baby Basics would support her twins until they were 3 years old.
"Originally, I thought the service stopped when they turned 2," Quintana said. "When I heard that, I walked out and started crying in my car."
Quintana said she isn't sure what her life would be like if it weren't for Baby Basics.
"If they didn't cover our diapers, I wonder what we would have had to go without. We probably would have had to cut back on our groceries to pay for diapers," she said.
"I can't wait to give back once the twins have graduated," Quintana said. "Baby Basics will be with me forever, even after the twins come out of diapers. I want to volunteer, donate and help spread the word about Baby Basics."
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund campaign continues through mid-January. To make a donation, go to www.PaloAltoOnline.com/holidayfund/