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Friday, January 29, 2010


Janika and Gabrielle (9 months)


The two of them arrive around 1pm, just as lunch is being served. Proud mommy Janika tells everyone, she's got a tooth! Her first tooth!

Women of all ages, colors, sizes crowd around mother and child. The baby, in her light purple sweatsuit, is definitely a rock star. She loves the faces surrounding her, the attention, the laughter and arms reaching out to touch her.

I'm at WDDC, otherwise known as the Women's Daytime Drop-in Center, in North Berkeley. The WDDC is a non-profit program that empowers women and children to move from the streets to a home. Not all of the women here are mothers. Some are single, older women: some homeless, some getting aid for housing. All are here for lunch and companionship.

The WDDC is an unusual place. It's a home, literally. Situated in a residential neighborhood, there's a kitchen with two volunteers cooking barbequed pork and yams, a living room with sofas and chairs and books, a dining area, and then several rooms devoted for client consultations and offices. The home is old, but still, it's a home. It feels comfortable and welcoming. Instantly upon my arrival, at least three people bid me hello and ask me if I need help. I can't tell if they're working there or the clientele.

I'm taken around and introduced to everyone. I tell them I'm there to collect stories, to listen, to take photos. I tell them I'm with Help A Mother Out, and that we help donate diapers here. Women who don't even have kids thank me for the diapers. Everyone realizes here that any assistance and outpouring of help benefits them all. Janika especially is so grateful for the diapers. She says," I haven't had to worry about diapers at all since the baby was born. Thank you!"

Some of the women are shy. They don't want to talk or have their photo taken. A couple others want me to teach them photography. We sit around the long tables while they eat their lunches and they talk about finishing school, finding new homes, getting jobs.

I will be back.


WDDC provides ongoing and intensive counseling, case management services, daily support groups, a comprehensive children's program, a variety of referral services, and a transitional housing program for for single-parent families.

Due to cutbacks, WDDC has had to lay off two key employees, one a counselor for the children. 

You can read more about WDDC here and more about Help A Mother Out here.

You can donate diapers online to WDDC or other Bay Area nonprofits here.

You can read more about our diaper drive and awareness raising efforts here.


Brook January 29, 2010 at 12:11 PM  

I love that photo! And rockstar is definitely what a baby with here first tooth is!

Dev January 29, 2010 at 10:41 PM  

WDDC sounds like an amazing place. I wish there were more around like it. And new baby teeth are always fun too :)

Marilyn Miller January 30, 2010 at 10:46 AM  

WDDC does indeed sound like a wonderful place for these women and children. Thanks for what you do to bring it to our attention, take their photographs, talk to them, and share diapers.

rosedale's 4head January 30, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

Oh Tango BABY! Love the header. you go mama!