A Lehigh Acres woman who founded Destiny Diaper Bank is in dire need of warehouse space if she and her husband are to continue helping young mothers with babies that require several diapers a day and the elderly who need their services due to medical problems.
While Destiny Diaper Bank is at a warehouse on Metro Parkway in Fort Myers, their lease is running out and they must vacate the property by June 1.
"I don't know what we are going to do if we are unable to find another place," said Rebecca G. Hines, founder and president of Destiny Diaper Bank.
Formed seven years ago as a mission to give back to the community, Destiny Diaper Bank has given out more than one million diapers to those in need.
She has a list of more than 300 young moms who are in need of the diaper bank's services and others who also need her help. Without that help, Hines doesn't know what those young moms especially are going to do since diapers are very expensive to young parents.
Diapers are one of the most expensive items that babies need since they need changing throughout the day and that adds up to a lot of diapers. For those who can't afford them, the money it costs could be the same as buying a car.
"For the past seven years, we have had our ups and down, always focusing on the future of our involvement to help improve the lives of our most fragile and vulnerable populations while not duplicating other agency programs and working alongside of established agency program," Hines said.
"The distribution of infant and adult diapers has been our number one priority. In the past our handing out of diapers was to the general population that were WIC subsidized. Due to supply and demand, we have had to narrow our distribution down to assisting student moms throughout 'Mom's University' program 'Help Keep A Mom In School.'"
But the crisis at hand is to find another place to house the diapers and a place where moms can meet.
Hines, who was seriously sick last year, is at the end of recuperating from hospitalization.
"We need a place that is at least 2,500 square feet in size and around a thousand dollars or less in rent, or if someone was so benevolent that they could supply us space, that would such a blessing," Hines said.
The agency is a 501(c3) non-profit charity so donors may deduct it from their taxes.
There are always people in need of diapers, from infants up to those who are elderly.
Hines said she just has heard from a retired veteran who is having challenges receiving adult diapers and incontinent supplies due to a recent move from Ohio.
"We will help him each month until they can work this out," she said.
Hines and her husband, Jack, gave much of their savings to start the agency 14 years ago. Today, they live on a fixed income and are thrifty in the way they live.
Their mission is to help others; but now they need help, too.
While she has contacted community leaders throughout Lee County, Realtors and others, they still have had no word of gaining a warehouse of some size for a thousand dollars a month or even less.
They are supported by donations. Often Rebecca has stood outside stores and asked for donations and the people have come through, but it cost to buy diapers, and it costs to store them for distribution.
"If we don't find a place by the middle of May, I am not sure what we are going to do. I have contacted churches, schools, and a few commercial real estate agencies, but have not received any open doors. I really believe that our charity is a vital part of the community in Lee County. The needs are great and our role is important," she said.
Hines also needs more supporters people who will join her board and help to publicize their efforts, speak to groups and get the word out that they are here to help those who have no other place to turn.
"For the past two years, we have been located at 11440 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers. Our lease will not be renewed the first of June so we are scrambling to find another location," Hines said.
She is praying someone can help them find another location and hopes it can come about by mid-May. A place in Lehigh would be sincerely welcomed, she said.
Diapers are much needed items and for single moms, buying them is a hardship that oftentimes keeps young moms from going to school or furthering their education.
But there are others out there, she says, who also need diapers.
These include special needs infants and children, medically challenged infants and children that have just left a medical facility and are in need of disposable diapers.
"For instance, we have just taken an application for helping a young family that gave birth to 'Brendan' in December at HealthPark. He was born without kidneys and will not be able to receive from a donor until he is 22 pounds. Brendan is now home with dialysis being administered by his young mom and dad. We will be helping this family each month with diapers, wipes, clothing, and other needed baby supplies," she said.
Others who need the distribution of diapers are active military families and veterans, first response officers such as in the sheriff's department, police, fire and rescue, and adults and the elderly who are on low income.
"For instance, we help those adults that are discharged from medical facilities in need of supplies that cost them between $200 and $300 a month.
Hines said diaper and diaper supplies are not covered by food stamps, WIC, Medicare, or Medicaid and Destiny Diaper Bank is the only local facility that provides these diapers each month.
In fact, Hines' Destiny Diaper Bank may be the only such agency in the whole state of Florida, that is being operated by a few people.
She said that before she became ill last year, Publix supermarkets offered to allow her to put boxes in their stores asking shoppers to buy diapers and drop them in the box.
"I want to get back with Publix now that I am able to get back to work," she said. "They were of great help and I hope they will continue to work with us," she said.
But for Hines, right now, this week or next, she is desperate to find space for the storing of diapers, baby clothing and other supplies.
"If someone can find it in their heart to help us find a storage place where we can have a small office, we would be eternally grateful," she said.
She and her husband believe they are doing God's work. Both are in their 60s. It is a mission she and her husband decided they wanted to do when they retired. It's a mission she wants to continue, but help is needed for them.
If anyone can help, contact Hines at 11440 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers or you can call her on her cell phone at 239-910-8198. The agency is also in need of money to pay final rent and to be able to pay rent at a new site.