Joanne Samuel Goldblum is the founder and president of the Diaper Bank (formerly the New Haven Diaper Bank), which distributes free diapers to needy families through a network of shelters, food pantries, day care and health facilities, churches, and educational institutions in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport, Conn.
As a social worker in Connecticut, Joanne kept encountering families without any toilet paper or diapers – and eventually learned that these essentials aren’t covered by food stamps or any other government-assistance program. She knew that without an adequate supply of diapers, families with young children were at an increased risk for health and parenting complications, so in June 2004 Joanne held the first Diaper Bank distribution in her own home, providing close to 5,000 diapers for poor and low-income families in New Haven.
Since then the Diaper Bank has moved into a donated warehouse space and distributed more than 5 million free diapers to families through its nationally-recognized Diaper Distribution Network.
In its early years, the Diaper Bank was entirely volunteer- and donation-driven, and Joanne delivered the supplies herself. Today she has two full-time employees and buys a quarter million diapers at a time from a manufacturer, giving away about 200,000 diapers a month. While no diaper makers have yet offered to give supplies for free, Joanne has inspired at least six people to start diaper banks of their own.
In addition to serving the Diaper Bank full-time (though she receives no salary), Joanne also co-chairs the Connecticut Parents with Cognitive Limitations Workgroup; sits on the board at Edith B. Jackson Childcare Center and the Foote School; serves on New Haven's Early Childhood Council; and served on New Haven's Homeless Commission as the vice president from 2004-2010. Lately her focus has been on policy, spearheading the formation of a national Diaper Rights Discussion and helping convene a “Diaper Rights” colloquium at the Yale Law School in April 2010. Among numerous awards for her work, Joanne was chosen as a 2007 Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader for her work, and 2007 New Haven Register Person of the Year. She lives in New Haven with her husband and their three children teenage children.