Women in FRAME
The state of the world being what it is today, we cling to something positive that everyone can get behind—Baby2Baby. Since 2011, the nonprofit has distributed 22 million diapers and other essentials to low-income families. Baby2Baby’s mission: helping families with children live dignified lives. Co-president Kelly Sawyer Patricof, born in London and raised in Vancouver, was a model in NYC before moving to LA, marrying Mr. Patricof and having two daughters with nonprofit agendas of their own.Baby2Baby counts some of Tinseltown’s most famous actresses as their patrons, or “Angels” as they’re called. All of them close friends of Kelly—which makes for its own fun story especially when she and partner Norah Weinstein use their Rolodexes to power positive change. This year we’ve added Baby2Baby to our list of charities we actively support and are guessing you might too after reading this.
What was the original mission behind Baby2Baby, and over the years how has it changed?
When I was modeling in New York, I volunteered at a Head Start in Harlem. There was a little boy named Brandon—one of my favorites. One day he was doing his math worksheet and started crying. He said, “I can't do it. My feet hurt.” I was like, “What’s going on?” Then I realized he was wearing shoes that were three sizes too small and his feet were bleeding. This was a light bulb. You can’t get an education without these basic essentials. His family couldn’t afford new shoes. When I moved to LA, I met my partner, Norah. My father-in-law fixed us up!
Sometimes those become the best friendships.
She was a lawyer and I was a model and we’d both just moved to LA and wanted to do something in nonprofit. We met with different organizations and every single one—homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters—said, “The thing we don’t have is diapers, clothes and basic essentials for these kids, and we don’t have the bandwidth to get them.” We met three women who had started Baby2Baby already. They were only open twice a week for three hours because they were busy moms and it was a volunteer community service project. After a few meetings, they decided to hand us the keys.
So Baby2Baby was born.
Within a week we had Rachel Zoe’s baby shower to benefit Baby2Baby, and it was featured in In-Style magazine. Then we had a cocktail party announcing me and Norah as co-presidents and my friends Jessica Alba and Nicole Richie came. Their photo ran in US Weekly. That week, while we were sitting in our tiny, 700 square foot warehouse Edelman PR called on behalf of Huggies. They said, “Oh, we saw this picture in Us Weekly and were wondering if you would like to do an event with us. We’ll give you 100,000 diapers and $100,000.”
How much time had passed between you and Norah taking over Baby2Babyand this phone call?
The timeline is fuzzy. But I would say like five months. Then The Ellen Show called asking if we wanted donated items for Mother’s Day. Meanwhile, we’re still in our 700 square foot warehouse.
I think another reason the company has grown so fast is because I say yes to everything. How could we say no to a truckload of diapers? We’ll figure out who’s gonna unload it later!
That’s a decent one bedroom in NYC.
That’s a decent one bedroom in NYC. Exactly! But try fitting 100,000 diapers in it. Or truckloads full of products from The Ellen Show. When the Edelman people called, they asked if we would accept pallets to which we said, “Yes, of course” while I’m Googling what is a pallet? When the diapers arrived we had to climb onto the enormous truck and unload them ourselves because we definitely did not have a forklift.
How did everything happen so quickly?
The celebrity moms involved. Rachel’s baby shower and Nicole and Jessica. And we have a board—an angel group—of 60 amazing women across different fields. They put themselves out there as ambassadors. Right now we’re doing a registry that we set up for the immigrant children, and during hurricane Harvey we sent 1.1 million items to Texas.
It’s great Baby2Baby has a community to spread the word.
We’ve distributed 39 million items and 22 million diapers to children in need because of volunteers. They help sort through it all and create bundles that go directly to children. Families in the community still donate their gently-used baby and children’s clothing. It’s the basic form of charity: those who have a lot give to those who don’t.
I was reading in one of your interviews about how we take easy access for granted, and the ability to buy in bulk, how much that actually saves you in the long run.
The families we serve are often paying two times as much for diapers as I would pay because I can order in bulk from Target and have them delivered to my door. A lot of these families live in places where they can’t get a delivery and they don’t have a computer and don’t have access to an online sale or transportation. One of the moms in our program takes a bus 45 minutes each way to buy diapers at a cheaper price with her two children in tow because she can’t afford them at the store nearby. Food stamps don’t cover diapers, and 14 percent of a low-income family’s after-tax dollars go to diapers.
One in three moms are choosing between food and diapers for their baby—a choice we don’t want any mother to have to make. "
It’s very unjust.
The four things that low-income families spend the most money on are rent, food, heat and diapers. One in three moms is choosing between food and diapers for their baby—a choice we don’t want any mother to have to make. That’s why diapers are one of our number-one items to ask for. Because they’re so expensive.
Some moms tell us that they empty out the diapers and hang them to dry and put them back on their baby—because what else would you do if you can’t afford more? Most of the neighborhoods where our families are living have a bodega where they can buy them, but the cost is twice as much as Amazon or Target.
Kids need so much stuff.
And it’s expensive. One of the amazing mothers we serve, who goes to school at night and works at Taco Bell and has two kids, said to us, “When you give me diapers I can afford to buy food for my children.”
If you could have anyone involved in Baby2Baby, who would it be?
Michelle Obama! She actually made a video to open our gala one year when we honored Kerry Washington.
She’s the greatest!
She would be great, so maybe she’ll read this!