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Group helps finance diapers, baby supplies for moms at shelter

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Shelly Birkelo
August 3, 2012

— Jeff Bealles was leading a tour through the YWCA Rock County Alternatives to Violence Program shelter when he saw a mom staying there head to the supply room for diapers.

"She had a cute little fella with her who was running around and another child in her arms," said Bealles, fund development coordinator.

"I could see how exasperated she was, and it hit me how tough of a situation it is being in a shelter in a domestic violence situation," he said.

Bealles couldn't stop thinking about the woman and wished there was a way he could help.

Over a couple beers with friend Jon Wangerin, Bealles shared his idea of starting a giving club of guys. If they could get 100 guys to donate $10 a month, they'd have $1,000 a month to buy diapers, baby wipes and formula for women with children staying at the shelter.

Wangerin agreed it was a great idea. They launched the concept about 18 months ago and hosted their first baby shower in March 2011.

Today, Dudes for Diapers has 60 members, including women who call themselves Dudettes. The group is hosting its second baby shower Thursday, Aug. 9.

YWCA board member Kari Gates had the privilege of becoming the first Dudette.

"I'm a parent, and I know how expensive diapers can be. It's a great opportunity to give money to help make a difference," she said.

In the past year, Dudes for Diapers distributed about 7,000 diapers, 110 packs of baby wipes, 100 bottles and 60 pacifiers. They also bought two diaper-changing stations for the shelter with money donated during the 2011 baby shower, Bealles said.

"It may not seem like a big deal, but before, moms were changing diapers on the bed. Now, they're able to do it in these sanitary stations that is more convenient for the women and more clean for the shelter," he said.

Wangerin agreed.

"When you look at what was accomplished in the first 18 months and where we think this program is going to go, it makes a huge difference in someone's life," he said.

Dudes for Diapers' supplies always are in need.

"Upwards of 250 individuals will be served through our shelter in any given year adding up to thousands of nights of service. Out of that group, 40 to 50 percent are children," Bealles said.

In the short time that Dudes for Diapers has been in existence, it has had an impact.

"We did not have to spend any money purchasing anything (baby supplies). It allows us to focus scarce revenues toward case management services for the women," he said.

"The fact that women don't have to buy diapers while they're at the shelter enables them to save money. So when they leave here, they're in better financial shape," Bealles said.

Dudes' donations have provided enough baby supplies to meet the needs of women with children at the shelter and keep women supplied at the YWCA's 11-unit Transitional Living Program.

"We've also been able to help the county health and human services plus groups in Beloit with diapers," Bealles said.

Bealles is thrilled with the growth and success of Dudes for Diapers.

"It's something utterly necessary. The whole concept of the program is so simple," he said.

Bealles encourages anyone who wants to become part of the movement to attend the shower.

"It's our one membership drive event of the year and an opportunity to drop off donations, learn a bit about the program and have some fun."



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