Pregnancy Helpline of Madison offers support to families during pandemic
During the pandemic, products like toilet paper and paper towels have been hard to come by in stores. Unfortunately, some parents are finding that diapers and baby wipes are just as challenging to get their hands on.
"I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription, the whole shelf was empty, all the diapers were gone," said Sarah Conroy, mother to two year old Easton.
Nicole Tackes, who gave birth to son Zayden the last week of April, had a similar experience while preparing for his birth.
“When I tell you there was nothing, there was nothing stocked,” Tackes said. “No size one diapers, the wipes were pretty much nonexistent, the supplies were very, very low. It was very scary to think that we’re about to have a baby, but what do you put him in?”
Unfortunately, both women also lost their jobs due to the pandemic, making the situation even more stressful.
“I got laid off my job, I can’t get through to unemployment, so I have no income, I have a two year old,” Conroy said.
Tackes said between her two full time jobs, she has always been able to financially support her children. She said going from working about 60 hours a week to none was a change.
“This was definitely a life changer, especially being eight months pregnant with him when it happened,” Tackes said.
Both women said they found support through Pregnancy Helpline of Madison.
“Pregnancy Helpline, our mission is to help women and families that are in need and provide them with basic baby necessities,” said executive director Brenda Collins.
Collins said the helpline provides resources including a 24 hour helpline where people can call for referrals and resources, a baby care package program that supplies baby essentials, and a safe sleep program where families can receive a free Pack N’ Play and other essentials.
Despite the pandemic, Collins said the helpline is still working to get families what they need. She said their baby care package and safe sleep program are still up and running, with modified delivery. Collins said the most popular resources they offer are the sharing center and diaper bank.
“Right now, the sharing center is closed, but we’re still working with our diaper bank to make sure that families are getting what they need,” Collins said. Collins said they are directing people to the St. Vincent de Paul pantry on Fish Hatchery to pick up diapers.
“Not only are families having a hard time getting the diapers that they need due to maybe a lack of income or that loss of a job, but even if they had the money, they're having a hard time finding diapers because shelves are bare right now,” Collins said. “Just like the toilet paper, people are panic buying the diapers, they're hoarding the diapers and the wipes so families are having a hard time finding what they need."
Those diapers have been helpful for Conroy, who said she’s been to the St. Vincent de Paul pantry to pick them up.
“They have been so amazing, that’s probably the only place I have felt love through this whole thing,” Conroy said of her experience using the pantry for diapers.
Tackes said she reached out to the helpline before Zayden was born. She said they received help with diapers and wipes, and said Collins also dropped off supplies at her home when she was in the hospital with Zayden.
“It’s amazing, just knowing that we have that support out here in the community was very helpful,” Tackes said.
Collins said they have also been working with ARC, Rise, and Shelter from the Storm Ministries.
"We're hoping that we can provide them with the materials that they need to provide for their children,” Collins said. “We want to make sure that their babies are clean, dry and healthy, and we're going to do whatever we can through our partner agencies to make sure we have those supplies."