Lee Ann Porter – An Illinois Story

I’m Lee Ann Porter, I’m the founder and executive director of Loving Bottoms diaper bank. We collect and distribute diapers through a network of partner agencies that work with families in need. They weren’t something that anybody talked about or realized was a need until we started really shining a light on it and talking about that people are going without. The first year that we did surveys, when we started, 4% of the people on the survey said they’d reused a soiled diaper. Then there’s just the emotional aspects on the parents. They’re feeling like they’re not good parents, they’re feeling sad, they’re feeling frustrated. The mental health side of that, I really know how that felt. When my son who just turned 15, when he was six months old his dad left. I had three kids. So I went from being a stay-at-home mom to now a single mom with three kids trying to make ends meet. And it was just a hard point. There was a point where I needed things like dish soap, laundry soap, toilet paper, diapers, wipes, those type of things. We had food because we were able to get food stamps, but we couldn’t get those things. And it was hard, because you kind of felt like you were failing as a parent when you couldn’t provide these things. And so there was a point when I actually had kind of an adopted Grandpa that had been a neighbor, I actually had him go pawn my wedding rings just so I could have a little bit of cash to do that. And I don’t think anybody should have to be in that position. So, I’m many years removed from that now. I’m remarried, have another child, and our life is completely different because we’re not in that position anymore. And I came across an article about diaper banks and was like, “Wow, this is something I could actually do. We could do this here.” So we went ahead and launched it in 2015 in the fall to start getting the diapers here in our community. Because I don’t think it’s ok to live in a community where people are feeling like I was. Started out just in Galesburg, the Salvation Army here was our first partner agency to come on with us. We’re in five counties: Knox, Warren, Mercer, Henderson, and Fulton County and we distribute around 10,000 diapers a month. We love that we can supply diapers to areas that probably would be overlooked otherwise. I mean, I love this community. We’ve definitely had our hurdles. You know, Maytag left and industries left, but I think that Galesburg as a community is really working to turn things around. And I’m in a place now where I can give back, I can help people, and so that’s kind of what we have made our mission to do. I love this community, I just want to see it continue to thrive.

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