Friday, April 16th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


A heartwarming example of loving thy neighbor

by Angela Slevin

Danielle’s shop is well organized and cozy, doubling as a donation sorting area

Danielle’s shop is well organized and cozy, doubling as a donation sorting area

Danielle Phillips can speak firsthand about how deceiving appearances can be. A few years ago while the economy was still struggling, she and her husband, Daryl, and their two young children, Sophia and Andrew, seemed to be doing just fine; they were dressed well, looked healthy, and were active members in their church, Great Bridge Presbyterian. To outsiders, nothing appeared amiss. But in private, they were dealing with some serious financial issues.

Daryl's flooring business was suffering. Little Andrew was only a year old and Sophia was only three. Babies are expensive, and Danielle and Daryl were struggling to obtain the essentials – diapers, clothing, a toddler car seat for their eldest. They didn't qualify for traditional assistance, and they truly needed help, but there was no organization in Hampton Roads that could assist them. "Without the help of family, friends and my church, I don't know what would have happened to us," Danielle says. "And during this time, wherever I went, whether the grocery store or the library, God kept putting people in my path who were going through the same struggle."

One day in 2012 while attending weekly Bible study, Danielle approached the leader. "I said, "God gave me an idea – we should have an event to help working families or single mothers who need a little help with all the needs of babies and toddlers,' " Danielle remembers.

That year the group that would be called Parents In Need held their very first outreach event. Community support was overwhelmingly positive. A member of the church volunteered her home, and the donations flowed in. Diapers, wipes, formula, all types of clothing and blankets, and even larger items like high chairs and cribs were stacked on the floor, tables, chairs, beds - every inch of the house became a shop. One hundred and fifty families were assisted.

Danielle didn't stop with that one amazing day of ministry. Families were contacting her all year round for help or to donate. At first, Danielle stored the donations in her home, then in her garage. More and more doors kept opening for Parents in Need. Reciprocal arrangements evolved. If one community organization received cribs or other baby items they couldn't use, they called Danielle and donated them. She rented a storage unit, and then a second storage unit, and at one point, a five room office suite was donated to serve as storage. 

Founder and Chief Diaper Giver Danielle Phillips and success stories Sadha and Carissa Sweat

Founder and Chief Diaper Giver Danielle Phillips and success stories Sadha and Carissa Sweat

The group continued their ministry every day. Volunteers would sort through all the donations and package them up in boxes for families to pick up from the church. They worked like this for a few years.

Then, Mary Riley from the Chesapeake Youth Foundation called. She'd been following their work, and knew they wanted to become their own entity and that they needed space. Mary invited PIN to come under their program and 501(c)(3) designation while retaining their character as a faith-based ministry. This enabled Danielle to use the old firehouse on Reservation Road and expand PIN's daily reach. Soon, there was a website with forms families could fill out online. Danielle could now work with them one-on-one at the shop. Appointments are set for 30 minute intervals and families can have privacy to look for what they need, and to just talk with volunteers.

"In this more intimate environment, mothers feel more comfortable to share their situations, and we can point them toward other community resources  and other churches with which we have working relationships to help even more," Danielle describes.

The focus of Parents in Need
 is the children:
 they are innocent victims
and deserve to have their needs met.

The families Parents In Need have befriended show their gratitude freely. Many have returned to donate the items they used such as strollers and clothing in good condition, and even to volunteer their time, paying it forward.

The focus of Parents in Need is the children: they are innocent victims and deserve to have their needs met. The public may not realize that families who receive government assistance cannot use that benefit to purchase diapers and wipes. Children who must wear wet or soiled diapers for an extended length of time suffer painful rashes and infections. Diapers have been the most requested item since the very first day of the organization's birth.

How can a family qualify for aid? It's so simple: just go online and fill out a form with contact information and items needed. There are no financial criteria that must be met. A volunteer or administrative assistant will call back and talk with the parent, create a profile and make an appointment to meet with her one-on-one in the comfortable shop currently residing at the old firehouse on Reservation Road.

Danielle affirms, "Sometimes, people only need just a bit of help, perhaps only for a season, while between jobs, while transitioning out of abusive situations into their own homes, or other kinds of trials. Our goal is to help while eliminating red tape."

Since 2012's outreach, over 5,000 children have been helped, and over 100,000 diapers have been handed out. This year's outreach event will be on Saturday, February 24, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Great Bridge Presbyterian Church at 333 Cedar Road.

 The event is free to all, but registration is encouraged to allow the event to be as well organized as possible. Once registered, families are given an assigned time to shop, so there is no need to wait on line for hours. There is free child care available, and for those expecting their baby soon, or who recently have given birth, or those who are wheelchair bound, volunteer personal shoppers will be available. Volunteers will also be there to help carry large items to one's car.

If someone who wants to attend didn't have the chance to preregister, the last two hours of the event are specially set aside for them. Danielle and Parents in Need expect to assist 1,000 children at this event and hand out over 20,000 diapers. Just a few supporters this year are Tidewater Global, Best Repair Co., Marshall Arts Studio, Little Gym, Frontier Technology, Dollar Tree and National Classification Management Society Hampton Roads.

Carissa Sweat and her daughter, Sahda, are just two of the people who've been able to turn their lives around with a little help from Parents In Need. When Danielle met Carissa she was living in a hotel with infant Sahda and had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Danielle explains, "We were able to partner with a local church and help pay for her hotel stay. Of course, we also provided her with food, clothing, diapers, and essentials for her young daughter. We continued our relationship with her family, providing much needed items, prayer, and encouragement through her trials."

Although Danielle's goal was to lighten Carissa's burden, she herself was inspired. "Carissa encouraged me with her positive attitude and strong faith. She is a cancer survivor, role model and speaker for those battling cancer, and a powerful woman of God. Her family is now in a great home, and looking toward a bright future," Danielle emphasizes.

Parents in Need raises all of their own funds. Danielle is so grateful for all the volunteers, donations and her great leadership team. There are still plenty of ways to help, though. Volunteers who are detail oriented, creative thinkers, good at networking and fund raising are indispensable. The greatest physical need right now is a larger space to house the entire ministry under one roof – diapers, clothing, baby furniture, Bible study and more.

Parents In Need

116 Reservation Road
Chesapeake, VA 23322