Featured Local Business: Rachel at PDX Diaper Bank
Rachel Alston is the Founder and Executive Director of the PDX Diaper Bank. I met her when I volunteered my services and donated a session for their first annual Fundraiser this spring, and I’ve been excited to get to know her and work with her organization, which does very good work in our community! Learn more about how to help here.
What is your business?
PDX Diaper Bank is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides free diapers and diapering supplies to local, low-income families with children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities. We do this in collaboration with nonprofit partner agencies; We distribute diapers monthly to our partner organizations who in turn provide them to families in need.
How old is the business? How long have you been doing this in total?
PDX Diaper Bank was founded June 1, 2012. Although a fairly young nonprofit organization, we have come a long way! In just our 1st year of diaper distribution, we were already providing 9 local nonprofits with a monthly supply of diapering supplies for the families they serve. The demand for services is extremely high as we have a growing waitlist of organizations eager to join our network for services. We incorporate new agencies into our service network as our resources grow.
Why did you start the business?
The idea to start PDX Diaper Bank stemmed from personal experience. When my oldest daughter was 6 months old, I was a stay at home mom while my husband attended graduate school. As a family of 3 living on student loans, we found ourselves at the receiving end of services such as SNAP and WIC. Diapering supplies were a HUGE monthly expense and there were no resources available to ease the stress of the high costs of diapers. As a way to save money, we turned to cloth diapering through the local cloth diaper service.
After my husband’s graduation, we relocated to Portland. With my work and educational background being in social services, I decided that I wanted to serve the local community in a way that was unique and that I was passionate about. After researching diaper need in the local community, the results were conclusive: There was simply no public assistance for families in need to help them with the high cost of diapers. There was (and still is) a huge diaper gap in Portland. As the founder of PDX Diaper Bank, I am proud that we are able to assist families with this need.
Why is your business important? (to you, to the community, etc)
PDX Diaper Bank is a huge part of my life and an extremely important addition to the Portland community. The organization offers important and unique services to the community, filling a need that wasn’t being met before. I can completely relate to a family’s struggle to afford diapering supplies; I am very excited to be a part of PDX Diaper Bank and what it has done (and will continue to do) for local families in need.
What is your background / what led you to doing this?
I have always described myself as a “nonprofit girl”. I have a human services degree from Western Washington University and have always had my foot in the door of some kind of nonprofit organization since graduation. The inspiration of starting a nonprofit came from growing up in a family business. It becomes almost second nature to start a business venture when you grow up around entrepreneurs. So, I decided to combine my love of business with my passion to serve my community!
What or who are your inspirations, in your business and in life?
I have been extremely blessed to have many amazing people in my life, family and friends, all of whom have many strengths. I look up to and am inspired by all of them everyday for the things they’ve done and have put out there in the universe. It is impossible to choose.
Do you have a motto or creed that you live or work by? What are your guiding principles?
Work hard, invest in people, set goals, and have fun and laughter along the way.
This pile of donations is the result of a diaper drive by a local athletic club. PDX Diaper Bank is always looking for groups to work with to donate!
What has been your biggest struggle?
Maintaining a balance of work and home/family/personal life. Starting any business is extremely challenging and time demanding. Also, when you have such a strong passion for your business, you sometimes forget to take care of yourself. I am always working on trying to maintain a balance in my life.
What has been your biggest success?
In my personal life, my children and family take the lead. In my professional life, founding PDX Diaper Bank is definitely my biggest accomplishment. I am extremely proud of my work.
How do you balance work and family/personal life?
Very delicately, but maintaining a true balance hardly ever happens for me. I do my very best to maintain a regular work schedule, but my worlds regularly overlap. You can ask anyone who has ever started a business- it is pretty much inevitable to have an imbalance at some point.
Just for fun: what are some of your favorites right now—tv, music, book, movie?
I have to admit…I’m a Netflix junkie;) I am currently watching an “oldie but a goodie”: the TV series HOUSE.
What’s your favorite Portland thing right now—a shop, a restaurant/café, a park, an event?
I love to try new cuisines and explore the best local restaurants to enjoy them!
PDX Diaper Bank can always use your help! Would you like to donate diapers or funds for this very worthy cause? Learn more about direct donations and other ways to help!