Guest Columnist

YPN: A difficult time, especially for young parents

The Gazette asked Eastern Iowa nonprofit leaders to write about the changing needs of our community in 2020

The diaper bank at YPN's We Care Shop, located inside YPN in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/
The diaper bank at YPN's We Care Shop, located inside YPN in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

For some of us, the ways we choose to gather, celebrate and give this holiday season will be altered, adjusted and re-imagined. It has become necessary this year, for the safety and health of all, to find new and creative ways for how we work, learn, play and participate in community. Yet, despite the abundance of change and the challenges we have faced; after the disappointments, cancellations, and missed events; one thing remains: HOPE. The promise of tomorrow and hope for a brighter future remain unchanged and unwavering, especially at local human service agencies like YPN.

YPN, formerly Young Parents Network, has continued to honor its mission to support, educate and empower moms, dads and children in our community throughout the pandemic disruption and after the devastating derecho. In-person group education sessions have been moved online and the Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank has been operating a minimal contact drive-thru service. Volunteers assist with stocking the We Care Shop for one-on-one shopping appointments, and instead of rocking babies at a Thursday night group session, they are reading stories to children via videos that can be viewed online.

These adjustments and new ways of connection, while challenging, have allowed the agency to continue to serve those in our community; because for some, barriers remain that were faced before the disruptions and, in some cases, have been made worse. Even in the best of times, holidays can be difficult for low-income families with limited resources, and may be even more difficult this year.

Knowing this, YPN has adjusted our end-of-year events to still meet the needs of those we serve. Instead of a holiday party complete with a turkey dinner and pictures with Santa, this year YPN will be offering individual hot meals that participants can pick up and take home. In lieu of our annual shopping night, parents will be shopping by appointment so they can provide new toys to their children this year.

So, as you are re-imagining your holiday plans and creating new traditions, don’t forget that giving doesn’t have to be quarantined. There are several ways community members can help YPN as we continue to give hope this year and beyond.

Give by visiting www.ypniowa.org/give — your unrestricted cash contribution ensures that our prenatal and parenting education programs continue to be offered free of charge to participants, and it invests in helping break the cycle of poverty in our community.

Shop online from the YPN Amazon Smile wish list https://smile.amazon.com/, which will provide baby items, toys, books and more to children.

Volunteer by connecting with us at www.ypniowa.org/volunteer, or call 319-364-8909.

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And, finally, keep your fellow friends and neighbors in your thoughts and prayers. Yes, we all have been negatively impacted in ways big and small, and we also have much for which to be grateful. Please consider joining YPN and other human service agencies in our area as we continue to create brighter futures for all.

Tisha Ritter is director of development at YPN, formerly Young Parents Network.

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