When Kelly Evans and Lisa Schlientz began cloth diapering their own kids, they likely didn’t envision they would eventually start a revolution across Southwest Missouri. However, in an endeavor to help others make the switch, that is what they are accomplishing.
Far from the days of cheap rubber pants and safety pins, cloth diapering in today’s world takes time, a little know-how and (at the beginning) money. The savings raved about by others can’t be seen right away in your pocket book.
As International Board Certified Lactation Consultants for the Springfield-Greene County Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) agency, Kelly and Lisa saw that many lower-income families had the desire to cloth diaper, but had a difficult time getting started and maybe needed a little guidance from experienced moms. Thus, the non-profit Cover Your Bum Cloth Diaper Bank was born.
Along with their day jobs—Kelly also a senior breastfeeding peer counselor with WIC and Lisa a WIC nutritionist while pursuing a master’s degree in public health—the close friends meet and train parents on the basics of cloth diapering, host local classes on the topic and provide support to their followers. All while parenting a combined six children.
What are your kids’ names and ages?
Kelly: Tanner, 18; Kylee, 15; Jacob, 9; Justin, 8; and Gavin, 18 months
Lisa: Michael, 2 ½ years
What is Cover Your Bum, and who benefits from your services?
CYB is a cloth diaper bank that loans cloth diapers to low- and middle-income families for one to three month(s) at a time. Clients need to qualify income-wise for WIC, Medicaid, or SNAP (food stamps), or be below 185 percent of the poverty level.
For parents interested in using the bank, how does it work?
The requirements for the Cover Your Bum program are as follows:
- Desire to cloth diaper;
- Accessibility to a personal washer and dryer, not in a commercial Laundromat;
- Attend training on the care of cloth diapers;
- Complete an application for the program; and
- Meet income requirements for WIC, Food Stamps, or Crosslines Food Pantry (185 percent of poverty level).
How did you each begin cloth diapering?
Kelly: I got into cloth diapering because Lisa loaned me diapers for my baby while on maternity leave. It only took one day, and I was hooked. I did not cloth diaper my four older children but wanted to reduce my impact on the earth. My husband wasn’t as convinced until he learned that disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to biodegrade. And I told him that I had gotten rid of all the disposable diapers in the house. He now is a supporter of cloth diapers.
Lisa: I always knew I would cloth diaper my kid, from the time I was a teenager. I helped to cloth diaper my nephews and nieces, so disposables seem a little weird to me. Cloth diapers have changed a lot from 20 years ago (when my first nephews and nieces were born), but they have only gotten better and easier to use. I also like the fact that cloth diapering is easier on my baby’s bottom and that I never have to worry about running out of diapers.
Do either of you have a funny story or anecdote that illustrates your experience with cloth diapering?
Lisa: Not really! People often expect cloth diapering to be hard, but it’s not hard; it’s just normal. I can tell you a great story about the time we went out of town for a week and used disposables. Every day, we had to wash our son’s clothes out in the bathtub, because he would get poop everywhere! One day, he pooped on my husband as they were leaving to meet me for lunch. My husband was so grossed out that he handed me the baby and the diaper bag and turned around to go back to the hotel to get cleaned up. There I was, in the middle of downtown Jefferson City, on a warm April day, trying to clean a baby up on a park bench. Yuck! We were so glad to get back home to real diapers!
Kelly: My sister-in-law teased me when we went to visit the family two weeks after my son was born. She said, “Oh you won’t be doing that for long,” and declared that Target diapers were the best at avoiding blowouts. Eighteen months later, I remind her we still don’t have blowouts and we are going strong! She is actually proud to tell her friends that I still cloth diaper and refer people to me often.
What is the leading piece of advice you have for parents just starting their cloth diapering journey?
Our best suggestion is to try many different brands, because what works for one baby might not work for others. Get them used so you can test them, and then you can invest in more diapers after finding the perfect one for your baby.
What is the most challenging part of balancing family and the business? The most rewarding?
Kelly: Mostly we balance work and family pretty well. I have five children from 18 years to 18 months, so I rely on my husband and kids to help out. Most of the time things go well, but if there is a hiccup, I try to take it all in stride.
Lisa: The most rewarding is when families tell us how much we have been able to help them. We have currently been able to help 11 families, with two already returning our diapers. They are so happy to be able to borrow our diapers, they got their stash built up and they are now diaper independent.
How do you find time for yourself?
Lisa: Time with my family is time for myself. Occasionally, I sneak away for a pedicure, but that is pretty rare.
Kelly: I try to find some time for myself in the evenings after all have gone to bed. I like to try to read or just watch useless TV—something easy to unwind from the day.
What advice do you have for moms starting a non-profit or business?
Network, network, network. Partners make all the difference in success!
Contact Cover Your Bum Cloth Diaper Bank
Diapers are distributed out of Crosslines in Springfield