Baby Basics helps working poor meet their children's basic needs | January 6, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 6, 2012

Baby Basics helps working poor meet their children's basic needs

All-volunteer nonprofit organization provides free diapers to families

by Angela Johnston

When Anna Quintana gave birth to her twins, Bailey and Mateo, she didn't expect buying diapers would be an issue.

"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."


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Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2012 at 9:51 am

A worthy cause, but a non-profit providing family planning would be even more valuable. These adults must have known that yes, having children is not an inexpensive operation. Why are they having children that they know they cannot afford to support? Even for their "basic needs".

Posted by CC, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2012 at 11:41 am

Family planning an excellent idea, more people should use it.
Why not a diaper service or cloth diapers? They save our resources and don't go into the landfill.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Good thoughts CC. Non-profit organizations like this rely almost entirely on donations. If people were more responsible in making these family planning decisions, and truly considered their limitations, it might also free up charitable donation dollars to organizations working on issues that could touch anyone's life. Specifically childhood disease, cancer research, etc. Tiresome that people make these life changing decisions, completely voluntarily, and expect a non-profit organization or government program to keep them afloat.

Posted by Mp, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm

No one expects to have twins (unless using Ivf). It's fairly naive to place blame on the working poor for their position. Many people have decent incomes until one bad illness, accident, issue.... Do you really think only the wealthy should be "allowed" to procreate? That's what you're implying with all the family planning comments. Truly insensitive.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Not being insensitive in the least Mp, just expecting a little more from people when it comes to considering their financial situation and whether or not they should be having children. I highly doubt that few if any of these folks seeking assistance were holding their own financially, and suddenly found themselves in dire straits after having children. Sounds like there are hundreds of families in need of assistance, so it's safe to assume that the majority were having financial difficulties prior to making these critical life choices.

I'm not suggesting that anyone be excluded from having children. Of course not. But is it unreasonable for me to suggest that they consider the ramifications and wait until maybe they can afford it? Please consider the burden this places on social services, as well as donations that could be utilized for people truly in need and not by their own doing.

Posted by Victor, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm

We just had a baby. Since her birth 2 months ago, we spent $98 on diapers and what we bought so far will last until she is 3 months old. It's preposterous to claim that diapers are a major expense when Target sells their brand at a price of $6 for 50. We actually buy a very fancy premium brand Seventh Generation at - a box of 176 cost $37. They had a sale recently, so previous batch cost $27. Costco sells their premium diapers in big boxes - 206 for $29+tax.
We spent a lot more on food, clothes, crib, stroller. Diapers were a blip on our financial radar.

Posted by Stranger, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 9, 2012 at 2:44 am

Thank you Victor for proofing the point. When family choose to have a child, they need to rely on themselves for supporting this child. What about all other expences? Better planning is a key. I don't feel any compassion in this case. I felt for families with Unpredictable emergencies and always ready to help. Ms Quantana will be jumping from one charity to another. Are those her only kids? I am sorry, but I am not buying 5 collectible cars. Just drive whatever can bring me to work.
And why do they need diapers until 3 years old? How about potty training at 2?

Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

I agree with all the above comments. We would have loved more, but stopped after 2 kids because that's all we can afford. Our kids were brought up "cheap". They were breastfed, and later, I cooked and mashed their food myself. We also made sure they were potty-trained by 2 years (plus minus 1 month) to minimize the diaper expense.

When will we let people be responsible for their own choices? Free diapers, health care, WIC, car seat, and later free lunch, field trips, etc. Sounds like we're just encouraging the cycle to continue: have more babies; *some*body will provide!

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

Well said PA Parent. Society has and continues to lower the bar when it comes to these expectations. People will not take responsibility for their life or hold themselves accountable because we have created a system that provides endless entitlements. Sadly this dependent way of life is often time passed on from one generation to the next.

Although charity for those less fortunate will always be a reality, and for this I have no issue providing to those who are truly in need. The problem is that we have made it so mainstream to access these services that people have just come to expect it. Society has to reconsider our approach to these issues. People have to realize that if they make poor life choices, like having children they cannot afford, then society isn't always going to able or willing to provide them with a safety net.

Posted by nature, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Are not you cruel?Nature has its way, some depend on quantity to survive,some depend on quality.What about you?Either no quantity or quality,I guess.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2012 at 10:07 am

I'm not quite sure what point that you're trying to make Nature, but no, I don't think it's cruel to believe in the endless potential that I believe people possess. People will rise or fall to the level of expectations in most cases. I only expect more from people because I truly believe that they are capable of providing it. Deep down people don't want charity, they want respect. Therefore I'm not giving people any hand-outs, but I am willing to give them hand if they show they are willing to help themselves first. Instead of welfare, we should have job training. And instead of diaper hand-out programs, there should be more family planning.

Posted by nature, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

I mean your words worth nothing.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

And I will certainly respect your opinion Nature, and at least consider your words with equal respect.

Posted by John, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 9, 2012 at 10:18 am

Family planning? These are families that work hard and make $25,000 a year. Are they not entitled to have children? They could do better financially on entitlements and being unemployed. Instead they work very hard to make $25,000 a year and are not on welfare or other government subsidies. The program clearly means allot to these families who are trying to make ends meet. Instead of buying new cribs, strollers, etc,,,, they typically borrow from other relatives and friends. I think comments like those above are naive.

Posted by nature, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

Ok,here is a respectful version.Your words worth a huge amount of fluffy down feathers.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

Yes, some reasonable family planning and societal expectations. Like if you know that you're living at the poverty level, how about holding off having children until you can afford it? How about knowing what limitations you have and not bringing children into this world that you know you can't support independently? Because if people don't, it has ramifications that adversely effects everyone else. People in these poor financial circumstances who insist on having children will, for the most part, require some level of public welfare, government assistance, or housing subsidies. The socio- economics of those born into poverty dictate that they are more likely to become involved in criminal activity, substance abuse, or gangs. Programs like this one that are set up to provide services that were created by someone's own doing, also drain charitable dollars that might have been donated to help the fight against a myriad of diseases.

These poor life choices that people make most definitely make an impact on society. It effects us all socially and financially. We are creating generation after generation of people that do as they wish, with little or no thought to the consequences, knowing full well that the rest of us will continually provide them with a safety net. Is it too much to ask for people to think things through and consider the consequences of their actions and decisions?

Posted by AMRW, a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I think it's unfortunate when people view having children as a right instead of a privilege. My husband and I both work and make a good-enough living but still don't have enough money to have children. Have you seen the costs of health insurance lately?!?!? We're not having children without seriously considering the financial implications this will have on us. Am I in a minority?

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm

You are not in the minority AMRW, but I believe very much among the ranks of the quieter, reasonable majority. Just because someone may have the right or privilege to have children, does not mean they should for a myriad of reasons. One of the more notable reasons being, "can we afford it."

Family planning would go a long way in laying out to people what the consequences and responsibilities involve. Then perhaps they would know that the cost of diapers can exceed their finances, along with most everything else when it comes to having a family.

Posted by Get out of the Ivory Tower, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Gee, Phil, so you're criticizing people who have stepped forward in compassion to meet the needs of others. You say they "should" put their money and effort into family planning services.

And you're criticizing people who are poor and yet choose to have children.

This all sounds like a philosophical debate, one in which you are extrapolating damages to yourself and "society" from the actions of people like the clients of this nonprofit.

If you don't want your taxes going to services for people like the Quintanas, vote for governmental policies that restrict government support. Otherwise, I don't see how one family's need, met by some kind-hearted folks, is harming you in any way.

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Being a medical resident and having a patient come in to ask for a prescription for Brand drugs with the comment "Just give me the most expensive drug, the state will pay for it" (Medicaid) irks me to no end. The patient, carrying her Coach purse and Mercedes key chain...on medicaid.

If the Quintana's had natural twins, then they were lucky and it was an unexpected surprise. However, if they went through IVF or was on Clomid to induce multiple eggs at ovulation, then I do not feel compassion to assist in helping them with diapers. When you're on IVF or Clomid you very much know that you will get multiples!

I believe in helping people but there needs to be a strategy in place to help them be on their two feet without assistance. Switch to cloth diapers or earlier potty training. Have some sort of rule that if you procreate again and come to the program once more, then there will not be any assistance because you should know what your limitations.

Posted by Stranger, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 10, 2012 at 12:29 am

Oh, and I wonder, if In exchange for getting a free diapers Ms. Quintana will be offered to provide some community service, would she agree? That cAn be a good solution - you take you pay.
Our gardener bought a puppy for his kids over the holidays. He bought a pet insurance?!, but when asked about family health insurance replied that there are "free" hospitals in Bay Area!!!!

Posted by CC, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2012 at 9:24 am

Phil, Elizabeth and AMRW I appreciate your input, very well said.
I feel there is a lot more to this story than we were told.
It is time for more people to control their desires and to think more about how the end result would affect us all.
Thank you!

Posted by dale, a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2012 at 9:38 am

The work these women are doing is valuable and from the heart. The fact that others, from their positions of privilege, scorn and blame the working poor is pitiable, indeed. The population served here are working as hard as they can to do what they can for their families, and yes, we all deserve to have families. Perhaps, if people of privilege, especially in California, were more willing to pay their fair share of taxes, or volunteer to help those less fortunate,things would be better for everyone, statewide.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

Yeah, that sounds like a reasonable plan Dale. Whatever I am privileged to have I made many sacrifices and worked hard to achieve. So you want me to pay more taxes, work volunteer hours, and make additional sacrifices? For what? So someone who knows full well that they can't afford to have children can do so? A more reasonable approach would be to suggest a course that has a proven track record of success. How about expecting people to plan their lives, save some money, and hold off starting a family until they can afford to do so without the dependence of others. Kind of like most reasonable people do, rather than expect society to support them after they made irresponsible life choices. Your way of thinking does nothing more than encourage and further a welfare state that will be passed on from generation to generation.

Posted by Beth, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm


Some of the "privilege" (comfortable) families who live in the Palo Alto area know what they can afford. Most of the families in Palo Alto have on average, 2 kids because as a previous poster mentioned, it's what they KNOW they can afford comfortably.

It is upsetting that those who do not know their limitations EXPECT others that do know their limitations to "help" with their problem.

As for fair share of taxes, we do pay our fair share of taxes along with the substantial amount of school loans we paid to obtain the position that we have now.

Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I echo your sentiments entirely Beth from Barron Park. Personally I get tired of being vilified somehow as another privileged Palo Alto resident, as if most of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouths or something. I came from humble beginnings, worked extremely hard, pursued an education, and made many sacrifices along the way to forge out a life here in town. I wasn't handed anything nor did I ask. Is it too much to ask every citizen to do the same?

Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 12, 2012 at 9:49 am

The generosity in our society has come to be expected to such a degree that I believe it actually perpetuates these problems. We make it so easy for anyone to access a myriad of both public and private programs that offer everything from food, shelter, education, and health care. With many essential needs being taken care for them, I feel that eventually it strips people of the work ethic, drive, and self-respect that it takes to succeed independently. Sadly, all too often, this condition gets passed on from one generation to the next.

I have far too much optimism and belief in the human spirit to continue to lower the bar of societal standards and expectations. People will rise to incredible heights if we give them the opportunity and expect more not less.

Posted by dale, a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm

To all of you who wrote so eloquently from your privileged positions: it is my hope that you never see the hard times and unbearable conditions that thousands in our land have suddenly become burdened with, and should you fall upon hard times, I hope that you meet people with more innate decency and compassion than you possess, and that they deign to help you.

Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

And Dale, if you think for a second that every person falling on hard times and experiencing unbearable conditions was due to unforeseen conditions, then you are sorely mistaken my friend. The majority are there because of poor life choices they made. This has nothing to do with decency or compassion. Take for example the people utilizing this free diaper program. They're already living at the poverty level, but yet they choose to have children when they know full well that they cannot afford to support them. They bring children into this world who will be at greater risk of experiencing a myriad of problems and issues. Problems and issues that have a direct impact on us all. Meanwhile, they count on society to support them in their misguided decision making through public and private funds. What an ideal society. The people who have been responsible and made the right sacrifices and decisions are expected to bail out and support those who haven't. Sorry, but that makes absolutely no sense to me.

I have no issues or hesitation with extending charity and support to those who have been responsible, if and when they are faced with a situation truly out of their control. Those are the people who we should be helping, not someone who insists on having children that they know they can't support. My charity and donations will go to job training programs, or research involving the fight on various serious diseases. Maybe if we dried up these programs and charities that support these self-made needs, there would be more funds to spread around truly worthy causes. Better yet, if the trough was dry, maybe these irresponsible people would think twice before they have children.

As for me and several others commenting on this forum, privilege had nothing to do with where I'm at today. I am secure for one reason and one reason only. I earned it, so spare us the guilt trip. You talk about compassion, but do so without expectations or standards. Again, your way of thinking does nothing but perpetuate these impoverished conditions and further the welfare state.

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