NC Parents and What They Work For: Alicia Heacock and Meagan Lyon Leimena, Diaper Need Crusaders

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Every month, throughout 2022, our Marketing Communications Leader is connecting with parents of young children at our partner organizations to lift up the insights of these hard-working parents and the work of our amazing partners. 

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National Diaper Need Awareness Week is coming up, September 24 – October 2, 2022.  The week draws attention to the issue of diaper need in the U.S., so we are taking this moment to highlight two parents — Alicia Heacock and Meagan Lyon Leimena, who lead Babies Need Bottoms and are working hard to address diaper need for families across Western North Carolina. 

Meagan Lyon Leimana and Alicia Heacock in front of a stack of Huggies diapers.
Pictured: Meagan Lyon Leimana and Alicia Heacock, Photo Courtesy Babies Need Bottoms

FAST FACTS

Alicia Heacock

  • Name: Alicia Heacock
  • Pronouns: she, her, hers
  • Location of NC: Western North Carolina
  • Year when she became a parent: 2015
  • Organization she’s involved in: Co-Executive Director at Babies Need Bottoms
  • When she got started in this work: Joined the board of Babies Need Bottoms in January 2018 and became Co-Executive Directors in August 2019
  • Who she parents: three young children

Meagan Lyon Leimena

  • Name: Meagan Lyon Leimena
  • Pronouns: she, her, hers
  • Location of NC: Western North Carolina
  • Year when she became a parent: 2014
  • Organization she’s involved in: Co-Executive Director at Babies Need Bottoms
  • When she got started in this work: Joined the board of Babies Need Bottoms in January 2018 and became Co-Executive Directors in August 2019
  • Who she parents: two young children 

8 Questions with Alicia & Meagan: 

  1. Lindsay: What issues are you most passionate about and what spurred that interest?

    Alicia: Increasing access to basic essentials for children and caregivers. I never thought about diaper need before I had my first child. Once I brought my baby home and realized how many diapers newborns go through a day (12 or more!), I would feel anxiety about not having enough unless I had an extra box of diapers in the closet. I remember that feeling so clearly – nearly 8 years later.

    To think that one in three parents can’t afford enough diapers for the week, let alone an extra box just to have on hand, well, that just made me so mad because diapers are an expensive necessity that have fallen straight through the cracks of the social safety net. It’s clear that our society doesn’t prioritize the needs of mothers, babies, and families – and it’s up to us as community members to do what we can to make a difference for our neighbors.



    Meagan: Centering children and families in our communities and our public policies. Nothing feels more important to me than the health, safety, and well being of our children and their families because when we center those priorities we are really caring for our whole community.

    Diaper need is a poignant example of unmet needs for children and parents and when we work to meet this need with collaboration and resourcefulness, we improve the health and well being of children, as well as their families. I want all children to grow up in families and communities where their basic needs are met (at a minimum!).

  2. Lindsay: What kind of policy solutions do you think could uplift families?

    Alicia: Paid parental leave. Access to high-quality, affordable childcare. Access to basic essentials.

    Meagan: Paid parental leave, universal high quality Pre-K, a living wage for all workers, public assistance programs that reflect the reality of basic needs, affordable high quality childcare.

  3. Lindsay: Who do you look up to for the things you work on?

    Alicia: Michelle Old of Diaper Bank of North Carolina. If Babies Need Bottoms had a big sister, it would be Diaper Bank of North Carolina. Michelle and her team have been so generous with their time, resources and advice – willing to collaborate and dream big about diapering more babies across the state.

    Meagan: The staff at the National Diaper Bank Network. They are knowledgeable, compassionate, and dedicated staff who really work on the problem of diaper need. They are always strategizing about how we can reach more families and better meet needs. And we call upon them a lot to help us think through issues, innovate and build our own capacity to do this work in our community.

  4. Lindsay: What are you reading, listening to, or watching that helps you feel empowered while navigating early childhood?

    Alicia: Janet Lansbury’s Unruffled podcast, Tara Brach

    Meagan: No One Is Coming to Save Us podcast, presented by Gloria Riviera (uplifting despite the name!), all of Kate Baer’s poetry

  5. Lindsay: Parents have never really gotten the support they actually need and families have really been put through the ringer over the past few years. What do you see is needed to restore families of young children to feeling a sense of stability and balance?

    Alicia: Childcare! We all need more access and support when it comes to caring for our children.

    Meagan: We need tangible, community support. The pandemic has exacerbated our isolation as nuclear units and I think we need to feel the support of our friends and neighbors. This means child care, sharing our resources and making safe, welcoming spaces for each other in our communities. Families of young children especially need to feel they have folks watching out for their children, seeing their hard work and sharing the load. 



  6. Lindsay: The work you do supplying families with diapers is probably seemingly endless. What motivates you to keep feeling and doing your best work?

    Alicia: Every month we ask our partners to share with us what they are seeing. The stories of families who receive our diapers, and are able to meet more of their basic needs because of them, are what keeps me giving more of myself.

    Meagan: I am motivated by the work our amazing partners do and knowing we are doing our part to support their work helps to keep me going. When we are packing orders for a mobile food market, I think about families having access to food AND diapers and what a relief it must feel to leave with those essentials. And I love knowing our child care partners can send children home with diapers that can be used overnight or on the weekends when they are not in childcare. 

  7. Lindsay: What gives you hope as a parent?

    Alicia: The innate resiliency, curiosity and openness of children.

    Meagan: The awesome responsibility of parenthood coupled with the magic of childhood: it is a sweet alchemy to have both tremendous responsibility as a parent and to see the boundless energy and creativity of children that results in hope for me. I also draw strength knowing people have figured out how to parent for all of time and we are a part of that legacy. 

  8. Lindsay: What kinds of things bring joy to you and your family?

    Alicia: Family hikes in these gorgeous WNC mountains, the kids flagging down the delicious local ice cream sandwich truck that passes through our neighborhood every Thursday, bringing home bags of books from our local library.

    Meagan: Playing with neighbors outside, watching for bears (who often play in our yard!), finding new books to read together and exploring beautiful WNC. We also love a family card game of UNO.

Diaper need crusaders like Alicia and Meagan make a world of difference for early childhood. Earlier this year, we wrote about overlooked diaper need as a real crisis. Ensuring families have diapers is part of the vital supports for families. All babies need diapering, babies must have diapers to be enrolled in child care, and thus, parents also cannot work without diapers covering their little ones tiny bottoms. It’s a matter of public health and well-being, but also has an economic impact and at the heart of equity, that we must be conscious of. This is the bare minimum for comfort and hygiene for babies and toddlers, at the start of their lives, and supporting parents.