By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
St. Bernadette Church parishioners have launched a new ministry that aims to meet what they call a silent need — the need for diapers among low-income and impoverished families.
“It’s amazing, the need that’s out there. It’s such a silent need,” said Deanna Hornback, a member of St. Bernadette who started collecting diapers in her home four months ago. “The government programs like WIC and food stamps don’t allow you to buy diapers. And you can’t put your child in day care without a day’s supply of disposable diapers.”
Working families, she said during an interview at her home Monday, “are stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
Hornback and her husband Chris have more than 4,000 diapers piled to the ceiling of a family room in their small home near Hikes Point in Louisville. They hope to collect thousands more and are willing to fill their garage and a spare bedroom, too, if it means more babies can have the diapers they need, said
Chris Hornback, a corrections officer for Metro Louisville.
According to those who work with impoverished families, the need is substantial.
The Golden Arrow Center, a ministry of St. Martin of Tours Church that aids mothers and young children, can’t keep up with the need for diapers. Emily Nolan, its volunteer director, said the center can give away just 48 diapers every two months for infants — that’s about six-days’ worth. Older babies
can receive 12 diapers every two months. That ration would equip a healthy baby for about a day-and-a-half.
“I can’t imagine not being able to change my baby,” said Deanna Hornback, whose daughter Renee is one week shy of her second birthday. “She threw a fit every time she had a wet diaper.”
The Hornbacks and about seven others have formed a parish committee to operate the new St. Bernadette Diaper Bank. They hope to find a solution to the diaper need in two ways.
First, they want to raise awareness about the problem.
Joan Powers, a committee member, said the ministry is about preserving the health of the baby and the dignity of the human person.
“It’s such a dignity issue for the parents,” she said, during an interview at the Hornback’s home Monday. “You can imagine in the heat of the summer and a crying baby” with a soiled diaper. Diaper rash would be inevitable, she said.
Such tension also could lead to child abuse, pushing stressed parents past the edge of reason, she added.
Secondly, the committee hopes to help agencies get the diaper sizes they need — not just those donated arbitrarily.
To that end, Deanna Hornback has provided forms so agencies can submit the numbers and sizes of diapers they need each month. She and her husband and a few committee members deliver them to the agencies.
The ministry is off to a small but steadily growing start. The Hornbacks delivered 617 diapers to two agencies in June. The family was out of town in July and at the time didn’t have any other helpers so no deliveries were made. But in August, they delivered 945 diapers to Eastern Area Ministries (EAM) and the Golden Arrow Center.
This month, the diaper bank expects to deliver more than 2,000 diapers to EAM, the Golden Arrow, Lifehouse and Catholic Charities, which has three ministries that distribute diapers.
Ursuline Sister Michelle Intravia of Catholic Charities’ Sister Visitor Center said the diaper ministry will be a blessing to her clients.
Diapers are “an expense that’s very hard to come by for the clients,” she said during an interview last week. “Right now the need is great because our shelves are bare. I have newborn diapers, but unfortunately it’s not the newborns I need. It’s the other sizes. I’m very grateful and I’m really excited. We get calls (for diapers) all the time.”
St. Bernadette parishioners realize the parish can’t meet these needs alone. And now they won’t have to. The Knights of Columbus Bishop Flaget Council has just adopted the ministry.
Richard Hines of the Knights of Columbus said during an interview Monday that about 140 Knights are distributing fliers and talking to business and parish contacts about the diaper bank. They will help spread the word to potential donors in the business community and in their parishes. He expects that someone also will offer some storage space as the bank expands.
The Knights have been impressed with the Hornbacks’ efforts, Hines said, noting that the family was chosen as the council’s family of the month in August. Chris Hornback joined the fraternal organization four months ago.
“The Knights of Columbus are really proud of these two people,” Hines said of Chris and Deanna Hornback. “We’re going to put all of our full support behind” the diaper bank.
Hines said he expects it to grow quickly. And so does Deanna Hornback, whose mother Cheryl Leadbeater started a diaper bank at her home in Virginia Beach about a year ago.
If her mother’s experience is typical, then the St. Bernadette Diaper Bank will need to find storage quickly. The diaper bank in Virginia Beach has delivered more than 119,000 diapers since December, Hornback said.
St. Bernadette Church will hold a diaper drive to support the local diaper bank on the weekend of Oct. 5 and 6. Parishes that conduct diaper drives are invited to send their collections to St. Bernadette so the right sizes can be distributed to agencies that need them. Hornback said she is also adding more agencies to the bank’s delivery list, as needed.
For more information about the diaper bank or to arrange for diaper pick-up, call the parish office at 425-2210. Diapers also can be dropped off at the parish center, 6500 St. Bernadette Avenue, Prospect, Ky., 40059.
Monetary donations to the diaper bank may be made to St. Bernadette Catholic Church (in the memo section write “diaper bank ministry”).