Eastside Baby Corner hosted the second day of its winter open house on Dec. 15, inviting members of the public to have an insider’s look at how the nonprofit helps the community.
Helen Banks Routon, director of development and community relations, said that the day had been a big success, with 14 guests showing up to take personal tours of the facility.
Eastside Baby Corner gives a helping hand to parents and families with young children who are having financial difficulties. The charity provides needy families with food, beddings, diapers, car seats, toys and clothing — including both maternity wear and clothes for children up to age 12. Last year alone, EBC gave out 1,374 car seats and 4,253 cans of baby formula, and this year, the organization is set to reach 1.1 million diapers given out.
Even with such staggering numbers, however, Routon said that EBC is just now “starting to get to where we need to be to meet the need” in the community.
Although the Eastside is known as a well-off area, Routon said that in actuality the high rent and housing prices create an even heavier burden for low-income families than other areas of the state. She explained that $54,000 per year is considered a living wage to provide for a family of four.
“A huge amount of the families we help are working, there are just big gaps between what families can afford and what they need,” she said. EBC hopes to provide “a little more money in their pockets to pay rent so they don’t end up homeless.”
Routon referenced parents who have had to make the choice between buying diapers for their baby or paying their rent on time.
“You’re trapped if you can’t get both [diapers and rent],” she said. “[Diapers are] one of those tiny, simple things that becomes huge in people’s lives.”
Boxes upon boxes of every type of clothing for children of every age and size line the shelves of the warehouse. A week’s worth of clothing for a child or pregnant woman is packed up in large bags known as clothing bundles. Eighty-five percent of EBC’s clothing is donated. Additionally, Routon explained that most of the blankets — those that are quilted, knitted and crocheted — are made by hand.
People who have personally donated goods often come to EBC to take tours.
“We have had the best tours because the people who come through have the most powerful stories about why they give,” Routon said.
The Issaquah nonprofit has attracted donations from Puget Sound celebrities. Rick Rizzs, the voice of Mariners radio, recently paid for $5,000 worth of toys to go to EBC. The donation came at a time when EBC’s toy collection was “down to nothing,” Routon said.
“We have families who tell us that they can’t even tell their child when their birthday is because they can’t afford to give them a gift,” she said.
EBC couldn’t reach its high numbers of families helped without all of its dedicated volunteers and donors, according to Routon. There are 80 core volunteers at EBC who in total give up to 2,700 volunteer hours per month. On a commemorative poster celebrating the number of years and volunteer hours people have spent at EBC, observers can see that Maureen Ridlon has logged 22 years and nearly 2,000 hours.