Around the world, populations face a multitude of challenges that have caused millions to immigrate or take refuge in a new place. This is nothing new, and neither is the fact that this transition is often difficult.
In northeast Wisconsin, we work with various partners who support refugees and first generation families as they settle into their new homes. Providing basic needs items to these families is an important tool in enabling financial stability.
One of our partners is the Oshkosh Area School District, who is aware of refugee students and thankful to use our program to assist new families.
“As refugees arrive in our community, we are able to fill the gaps of need that arise when they first resettle,” said Ayak Deng of OASD.
Another partner, Parent Connection of Family Services Northeast Wisconsin, shared the story of an immigrant family in which both parents are trying very hard to earn enough for their needs - yet they fall short.
“One of the families that received diapers this past month immigrated to the country and has very little formal support in the area,” said Kenlin Grams, of the organization. “Dad started his own company, but has faced many financial challenges with repairs that needed to be done on his truck and ended up having to close. Mom works part-time and her schedule is very demanding. Despite their best efforts to stay ahead, this family struggles financially, so being able to provide them with a package of diapers is extremely appreciated by them!”
Winnebago Area Literacy Council is another of our partners who works directly with those who have resettled, and through our collaboration can provide basic needs items to its clients that are working to learn English.
“Poverty and literacy are connected,” said Thomas Perry of the organization. “We work with several new Afghan women who have many children they are raising. Without the assistance of Jake's these women would likely never attend English classes due to the costs associated with diapers. Additionally, period products allow these individuals to attend classes due to the ability to leave the house. We thank Jake's for the assistance in our mutual goals to end poverty and make our communities stronger.”
For Jake’s, 2022 was filled with much to be proud of and excited about. We began the year by welcoming our new executive director, Scott Sawinski. We also expanded our list of partners from less than 90 to more than 200 by the end of the year (by the way, we’re up to 250 and counting!
This means that our work has been able to reach (and support) more diverse community needs, from foster care to after school programs, family needs and domestic abuse shelters, refugee work, poverty support, health programs, etc.
In total, we surpassed ONE MILLION total products distributed in 2022 for a total of 1,053,505 products. We spent reflecting on all the work that we accomplished throughout the year, thanks to your support.
Keeping Babies Safe, Dry, and Healthy
Through our East Wisconsin Diaper Bank, National Cloth Network and Global Cloth Network, Jake’s has distributed 554,821 diapers to partners. These diapers have supported 12,885 children and babies.
“Parents are their child’s first and most important teacher. (From Jake’s, we use) diapers, wipes and feminine hygiene products. These items are expensive, and being able to help provide these to families allows them to spend their money on other necessities.” — Kelly Hinz of Parent Connection
Creating Equal Access to Period Product
Our On The Dot Program provides dignity for girls and women through equality and access to period products. So far in 2022, we have distributed 129,352 period products which have supported 5,442 girls and women.
“We are providing free period products in our bathrooms for high school students. This is very helpful to keep them in school during this time for them.” — Kelly Wick, Appleton Area School district/Appleton East High school
“Our intermediate female students now have a locker designated for period products that they can access at any time they need. The products in the locker came from Jake’s Network! We have already had students use the locker.” — Leah Zwiers, Jefferson Elementary School, AASD
“Children feel more confident to attend and engage with peers when they are well groomed and cared for at home!” — Mackenzie Harness, Oshkosh Area School District – Ready 4 Learning
Helping Older Adults Maintain a High Quality of Life
One in three adults are dealing with some form of bladder control issues today, and two in three people will have incontinence during their lifetimes. There’s a social stigma around the issue, adding to the difficulty in dealing with it. In 2022, we have distributed 336,128 ACE products to partners. These products have improved the enjoyment of life for 10,143 individuals.
“Our seniors feel that by asking for their incontinence products, they feel more secure not having to ration when they need to use them. A lot of the seniors can’t afford what they need with how many they go through a day, so this is a huge help to them to call and get these sent to them with their meals we supply them with.” — Amanda Wiechman, ADVOCAP’s Outreach Specialist
Supporting diverse basic needs through My Neighbor and our Hope Hub
Our My Neighbor program is our most diverse basic needs program. This program was established in 2019 based on demand to provide even more basic living goods to people in need in our community, at the request of numerous partner agencies and really established its presence over the past year. The goal of this program is to provide for other needs that community partners are serving, while creating financial savings for our partners which in turn creates a revenue stream that supports our hygiene programs.
For example, a partner could browse the Hope Hub to find items for adopt-a-family type projects, including bedding, toys, kitchenware, hygiene items and more; OR, teachers can browse and stock supplies they need for classrooms or school projects; OR pregnancy agencies can stop by and pickup items that expectant parents will need, from furnishing a nursery to stuffing a diaper bag and more.
All items from My Neighbor and the Hope Hub are provided at sharing fees to partners – which on average cost about 25% of retail value. The sharing fees from this program also support the operations that help us provide all the hygiene products (diapers, period products and incontinence supplies) at no cost to these same partners. This is a major win for our community, partners and the people they serve.
By the Numbers
Jake’s acts as the bridge between product and people, managing the procurement, sorting, storage and distribution of hygiene products and basic needs items. We work directly with other 501c3 nonprofits, schools or faith-based organizations to reach people in need.
Since the beginning of 2023 through mid-March, our partners have requested products for 5,837 kids in need of diapers. This is typical demand that will only grow as our partnerships do. In 2022, we distributed nearly 555,000 diapers … an average of 46,250 diapers out the door each month!
Here’s a look at the impact those diapers have, from the words of our partners:
"One of our families has one infant at nine months and one toddler at two years of age. The family is on a very fixed income and the mom relates that the diapers and wipes help her out so very much. She wants to thank Jakes Network of Hope for being such a blessing to her family." — Theresa Arts, SonShine Room - Fellowship Bible Church
“Many of our clients are trying to do their best for the children that they have. It isn't just important for them to be able to put food on the table, it is necessary for them to be able to provide a clean and healthy living situation. By having the diapers available to them, this helps with the health and well being of the parents and the child. They are always so grateful that we have them available.” — Jericho Road Ministries, Inc David Eldredge
Families appreciate being able to focus limited funds on food and shelter as their needs for diapers are met by our partnership with Jakes.” — Family & Childcare Resources of NEW - Shelby Belanger
From a foster parent: "This has been very helpful to us as we use daycare and this had provided the supplemental diapers we need for daycare as they change on a schedule along with as needed." — Taylor Trost, Lakeshore Foster Families & Friends in Manitowoc
Thank you for all your help in making this change, Little by Little every situation gets better!
Empty shelf alert! While demand continues for diapers in our community, we are depleting stock of various items and working desperately to refill our shelves! We have received many donations and shipments of pullups off our waitlist - and are so thankful for the help!
Here's some comments from our partners that showcase the need in our area, as well as the impact when we're able to pull through:
1 in 3 U.S. families with young children are unable to afford the diapers they need to keep their babies clean, dry, and healthy. This public health issue is known as ‘diaper need’ - this is what we are working to change!
Our Eastern Wisconsin Diaper Bank provides diapers to partners across Northeast Wisconsin. When it comes to sourcing hygiene items, we are members of the National Diaper Bank Network where we receive literal semi-truck loads of diapers - but certain sizes are difficult to secure.
Specifically, size 6 Diapers and 4T/5T pull ups are difficult to source and stock. We receive far fewer donations of these items, and the cost to purchase on our own is greater than other diaper sizes. Given bulk product discounts, the most efficient way to purchase diapers is by the truckload - with will total tens of thousands of dollars.
Every donation counts, and your gifts have helped us make a difference in so many lives.
A collaborative effort to give homeless Oshkosh families a safe shelter and fresh start will open its doors to 8 families in the New Year.
The Oshkosh Kids Foundation (OKF) has teamed up with 17 local community partners to introduce the Tiny House Village - Jake’s Network of Hope is thrilled to be one of these community partners!
The Tiny House Village provides affordable, short-term housing for families while they learn life, financial, and home management skills. Jake’s is providing goods to furnish each home - such as bedding, small kitchen equipment, dining ware, bathroom needs, and so forth - a partnership that has greatly helped reduce the project’s growing budget - according to Julie D., Co-Founder, and Executive Director of OKF.
“We love Jakes, we’re super excited about the group staging our houses - all the items that Jake’s is providing are going to make it a home,” she said.
As of early December, the village’s community center is complete and ready for the organization to start furnishing and “moving in.” The first couple of houses are expected to be move-in ready in the next couple weeks, with doors opening to 8 families just after the New Year, Julie said.
Families are referred by school social workers, Winnebago County social workers and the Christine Anne Center. The families who are ultimately selected for the program are those who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness and are also working hard to overcome their situation. The Tiny Homes village goal is to give these families time to get back on their feet and re-establish financial security while offering a fresh start.
There are 100 families on a waitlist for programs that could ultimately refer to the Tiny Homes, showcasing just how desperate the need in the area is; Jule said the group hopes to have 16 homes available by the end of January and 32 by the end of June. The homes use solar power panels to reduce tenant costs, and the village will provide internet; the only utility residents will pay is water.
“These people, we’re getting them stabilized and then giving them hope and dignity and excitement about a brand new house with brand new stuff - and they can start over,” Julie said. The organization will provide each family a picture frame with a family photo upon move in.
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