We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Histo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jessica, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
I think that people see a non-profit and automatically assume that you are funded in a way that allows the organization to survive. Like the start of many businesses I worked for free the first 3 years. Now I receive a part time salary, but the others on my team are volunteering their time as well. I takes time and a lot of effort to build a sustainable program. However the need is there. Diaper banks and other organizations that provide basic essentials are just as important as food banks. The difference is that for struggling individuals there is no assistance for diapers and hygiene products, unlike SNAP, WIC or EBT for food.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Labor and Delivery nurse by trade, helping to bring babies into the world for over 10 years. Going through nursing school, working on the floor and eventually becoming an educator was always a process. You never stop learning, there is always studying to make sure you are up to date. However nothing really prepares you for having a child of your own. I was already starting to work less before I had my son (trying to figure out the work/home life balance and child-care situation). When he started to outgrow his diapers I was looking for a place to donate them to and came across the National Diaper Bank Network. At that time there were no diaper banks in Hawaii. After praying about it I held a diaper drive during National Diaper Need Awareness Week in 2016. Over 4,000 diapers and multiple packages of wipes were collected and I gave them to local women’s shelters, and organizations around the island. In 2017 a second diaper drive was held this time collecting over 5,000 diapers and multiple packages of wipes. In was after that when I met Hannah. She was relocating to Hawaii from California and through the National Diaper Bank Network had heard about my efforts. She had worked with another diaper bank and was happy to share her knowledge and experience. In 2018 we incorporated and under the fiscal sponsorship of Hawaii Children’s Action Network started Hawaii Diaper Bank (HDB) the states first official diaper bank out of my home. Flash forward to now, we have given out more than 1.2 million donations (400,000 of which are diapers). Never in my dreams did I think I would I have started a non-profit. It continues to be a challenge. However, thanks to the amazing people that come along side us it’s amazing to see the impact we’re having. 1 in 3 families report struggling with diaper need, and this was pre-pandemic. When COVID hit, our referrals tripled within the first 2 months. Diaper Need is not having enough diapers to keep your child clean, dry and healthy. Care givers state leaving children in diapers longer than necessary to “stretch” the use, which can lead to things like diaper rash, urinary tract infection and ultimately stress on the child and the parent. Diapers are also very expensive, with the average cost of diapers being $1,000/year per child. Which can be up to 14% of a low-income families earnings. There is also no government assistance for diapers. SNAP, WIC and EBT do not cover basic hygiene products. I may not currently be in the hospital setting. But I’m supporting my community in a way that I never could have dreamed of, and I’m proud of that. HDB works though our network of community partners providing not only diapers and wipes, but formula, clothes, hygiene products, blankets, books and even toys for special occasions. Our partners provide other resources and programs giving families support they may not even know they needed.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’re blessed to have quiet place to host our friends. Backyard BBQ and fire pit (weather permitting, we do live on the “wet” side). Makes for great talks and laughs. A beach day is also a must though, and getting shave ice from Original Big Island Shave Ice Co. after. Also an East side and West side day hitting some of our favorite eateries or trying something new. Can’t miss Volcano National Park or a Sunrise on Mauna Kea either. I may be a little biased but I really do feel like I live in one of the best places on earth.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Mahalo to our Board Chair Hannah London, Hawaii Diaper Bank is just as much your baby as it is mine. To our amazing family and friends that are the reason we made it through our first year of operations, giving time, money and donations to our cause, we could not have done it without you! To Jen for coming along side and going above and beyond to make us better. To my husband Ka’imi for not only being the main breadwinner but coming home from work and wrapping diapers with me and being our number 1 supporter. Last but not least, to Hawaii Children’s Action Network, National Diaper Bank Network and Baby2Baby for your continued guidance and kōkua navigating the non-profit world. Each and every one of you help us in our mission to #covereverykeiki.

Website: https://hawaiidiaperbank.org/

Instagram: @hawaiidiaperbank

Twitter: @hawaiidiaper

Facebook: @hawaiidiaperbank

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1snV4dA1Ui_H-W6qJ50EpQ

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.