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Pastors’ Spouses help new mothers with diaper needs

Special to the Tri-State Defender

Diapers – 1800-plus of them – were given to the Women’s Hospital at the Regional Medical Center on Tuesday (Dec. 20) for distribution to new moms delivering babies at The Med during this holiday season.

 The welcoming party for much-needed diapers for newborns included (l-r) Bettye Givens, Project Coordinator, Sunrise Program for Teens; Paula Lingeman, Director of the Women’s Hospital at The Regional Medical Center at Memphis; Fannie Marlow Coleman, First Lady of Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ; and Lt. Allen Hardrick with The Med security force. (Photo by Tyrone P. Easley)

The diapers were collected through Memphis area churches and reflect a nationwide initiative by the National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses (NCPS) to meet what is being called a crisis.

A groundbreaking 2010 study commissioned by Kimberly Clark’s Huggies Brand determined that one in three American moms are struggling to provide diapers for their babies.

Memphis-area supporters of the NCPS initiative point to what they term “too many African-American teen moms” who are known to be stressing each day because they lack the ability to provide their babies with clean, dry disposable diapers. There are reports of young moms who have had to cut back on food, utilities or other necessities in order to buy diapers.  Some have to leave diapers on their babies for one to two days.  Or worse yet, dry the diapers in the sun and reuse the unsanitary items.

“We are so appreciative of the various churches and pastors’ spouses who have heard the clarion cry and have responded to meet this critical diaper need in the Memphis community.  In this struggling economy, so many young mothers often have to make decisions on whether to keep their utilities on...or buy baby diapers,” said Fannie Marlow Coleman, First Lady of Refreshing Springs COGIC, the organizer and spear-header of the 2011 Tennessee  “Hug-a-baby” diaper drive,

“So we reached out to pastors’ wives, and former wives – such as Mrs. Louise Patterson, President of Bountiful Blessings, Inc., and widow of the late Bishop G.E. Patterson – who have come together to make generous donations to this effort.”

NCPS stepped up around the nation to meet the challenge. Soliciting support from parishioners and church members, pastors’ spouses have been busy collecting and distributing diapers to moms in need during this holiday season.

Over 3000 packages of diapers were collected in the past three weeks. In addition to Tuesday’s delivery to The Med, diapers have been distributed via Christmas baskets and to local day care centers.

The National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses collected and distributed over 3500 diaper packages during last year’s inaugural diaper drive. The clergy wives this year have already topped last year’s goal, said Vivian Berryhill, NCPS president and founder.

“Our target states for this year included, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi. The church has always been, and continues to be the institution in the African American community where people can turn to in times of need,” said Berryhill.

“My hat’s off to Fannie Coleman and the fantastic team of women for rolling up their sleeves, bundling these thousands of diapers up, picking diapers up in their cars and SUVs, and getting them out into neighborhoods across this nation.”

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