On an ordinary afternoon this winter, ShareBaby processed its 10-millionth diaper.
It was a big deal, but every diaper has been since the nonprofit started a decade ago to meet the basic needs of Baltimore’s most vulnerable families.
“I’m not a woo-woo kind of person,” says Nadya Dutchin, the organization’s new executive director, who started in July, “but I’m like, ‘The numbers are lining up—and the universe!’ Because that’s what it feels like—10 million diapers and a 10-year anniversary.”
For Dutchin, who previously ran the American Humanist Association in Washington, D.C., and has lived in Baltimore for eight years, landing at ShareBaby felt like coming full circle. She arrived not just with the requisite skills, like a knack for fundraising, but a personal connection, too.
“I’ve been where these parents have been,” says Dutchin, pictured above, who got pregnant a few years after college. She had a decent job but still couldn’t afford all the basic necessities, plus day care—so “my sisters and good friends gave me nearly everything.”
When her daughter suddenly passed away a week after she was born, Dutchin was devastated but wanted something positive to come out of her profound grief. She tried to donate the items that filled the nursery, but no such place existed.
Now, every day, she gets to be part of the solution, with 60-some distribution partners that provide diapers and wipes at no cost—surprisingly, you can’t use SNAP or WIC to purchase them—as well as other nearly new items, like car seats, strollers, and clothing, to relieve the burden of so many families throughout the city.
Dutchin, who now has a healthy 10-year-old daughter, doesn’t like to use the word charity, instead calling ShareBaby a “mutual aid organization,” with parents happy to know that their beloved belongings are going to good use rather than ending up in a landfill.
“These are families standing in solidarity with other families,” she says.
And this next year is all about celebrating ShareBaby’s history but also strategic, long-term planning and growth for its future. Currently, their 9,000-square-foot warehouse on Union Avenue in Woodberry is big enough and has received recent upgrades, but Dutchin sees demand beyond city limits.
Gentrification is “pushing folks out into the county and the need is growing there,” she says. “But we can’t get to them yet because we’re still trying to meet the need here.”
Which is a thought that’s constantly on her mind: How do we help everyone? “We’ve got to take care of the kids,” says Dutchin. “We have an obligation to take care of our little people, all of us do.”