Facebook

Whittenberg's observation led to historic diaper drive, organization

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, December 4, 2017

Enlarge photo

Ernestine Whittenberg, left, founded the Diaper Bank of the Carolinas.
 
 

Jim Fair

Ernestine Whittenberg, left, founded the Diaper Bank of the Carolinas.

 

 



Enlarge photo

The ultra-successful diaper drive now occupies a small warehouse.
 

Submitted

The ultra-successful diaper drive now occupies a small warehouse.

 



Enlarge photo

The 40,000 diapers Greer Memorial Hospital and staff collected was a record drive.
 

Jim Fair

The 40,000 diapers Greer Memorial Hospital and staff collected was a record drive.

 

A baby with a dirty diaper, apparently hours old, crawled across the floor.

Ernestine Whittenberg noticed. She was visiting the home as a parent educator for the Greenville County Schools.

The baby in that home was the impetus for the Diaper Bank of the Carolinas that has scaled beyond the community neighborhood.

Greer Memorial Hospital participated in the bank’s fall collection drive. Employees and people in the community donated to the hospital’s efforts, which culminated in 40,000 diapers.

The Diaper Bank of the Carolinas roots can be traced to Whittenberg and 10 friends in 2006.

“I saw that baby crawling and thought, ‘OK, it’s time for us to give back to the community,’ ” Whittenberg said.

She began carrying diapers on her visits. They eventually filled her trunk. When her daughters went away to college there were no rooms for them to come back to — those rooms had become storage rooms for the thousands of diapers that have been collected.

“People don’t want to know what you know until you care about them,” Whittenberg said. Caring was an earlier career for Whittenberg as a nurse with the Greenville Health System.

An inadequate supply of diapers puts a child at risk for health issues and it can impact development. It’s recommended that a child’s diapers be changed 10 to 12 times a day.

When Whittenberg’s original team of 10 who formed the bank began getting overwhelmed, Rosalyn Weston was asked to help with the marketing and communication of the non-profit. That was a natural as Weston, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport Communications director, is a well-known and respected leader in many Upstate organizations.

Whittenberg and Weston have known each other for 30 years.

“Teenie (Whittenberg) had a great story and just needed someone to tell it,” Weston said. “Diaper needs are hidden consequences of poverty. Some families have just enough money to cover basic needs — food, transportation and housing. Diapers keep getting pushed lower on the list.”

Greer Memorial Hospital was the setting Thursday with two pickup trucks loaded with diapers to illustrate the hospital staff’s goal to set a record 16,000 diapers collected during its drive. GrMH set its goal to shred the former record — 15,000 held by Weston’s GSP staff and friends.

Whittenberg said some of those helped in the past have also come back to volunteer and thank those who were there in times of need.

“Some do come back to help,” Whittenberg said. “Some also come back and give us a hug. “When you get that hug, you know they appreciate you.”

 

 

Share



Leave a Comment



Trending: Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Obituaries, Chon Restaurant, Allen Bennett Hospital