WestSide Baby – Seattle
Sarah Cody Roth is the executive director of WestSide Baby in Seattle. In partnership with the community, WestSide Baby provides essential items to local children in need by collecting and distributing diapers, clothing, and equipment. Here, she encourages the nonprofit sector to think beyond what’s possible.
2020 is coming to a close. How are you feeling?
As a nonprofit who distributes basic needs items, like diapers and baby clothes, 2020 has demanded that we reckon with how we fail to meet the most basic human needs of our community – the consequences of this can no longer be ignored. We feel raw, vulnerable, exhausted, energized and beautifully human, full of hope for how we can emerge from 2020 to realize a healthier community because we must.
How are you taking care of yourself and your staff right now?
We are finding deeper ways to root and anchor ourselves in our values of humanity, intention, and resilience. For us this means dedicating resources – extra time off, extra pay, and outside expertise – to support staff in honoring our different human needs for rest and connection as we experience heightened collective trauma that impacts us each differently. We are actively striving to create a staff community that honors the full humanity of each individual; we have navigated a year that has challenged us in every way even as it has brought the joy of a deeper shared purpose.
What do you hope for 2021?
I hope that we refuse to go back to a status quo that left thousands of children, disproportionately in BIPOC communities, without the basics every person fundamentally deserves. I hope that we see from 2020 that our well-being is so plainly connected to the well-being of our whole community, and that we must find systemic ways to ensure every person has the resources they fundamentally deserve in order to thrive.
What support do you or your organization need in 2021?
We will need the support of our community, to be in relationship with communities facing unmet basic needs, with our sector working to build a better world, and with those in positions to change policy to bring our vision into reality.
What are you most proud of this year?
We are most proud of how we got clear early on about our priorities and directed resources to communities facing the most disproportionate impacts of concurrent public health crises – coronavirus and systemic racism. By listening to the greatest needs in our community, we were able to focus our efforts on distributing 2.3 million diapers – almost DOUBLE what we distributed last year – to support families well-being.
What message or advice do you have for other nonprofits in your sector?
Let’s listen to and follow those in our community who are closest to the seemingly intractable issues we seek to address. Let not limit our imagination to what might be possible.
What questions do you have for the nonprofit community?
How have you found ways to center your values and your community in 2020? How did these actions impact your community? What can we learn from each other as we work to do better?