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Meet Justin Barringer of Diapers, Etc. and Owenwood Market in East Dallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Barringer.

Justin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My family and I moved to Dallas for me to do my PhD in religious ethics at SMU after many years living in Kentucky to do my master’s degree and work for a church there. Before that we lived in China where we taught English and worked with an orphanage. We also lived in Nashville where I worked for a couple different churches as well.

I honestly don’t know what other details you might be looking for, but I guess I would add that my middle and high school teachers would likely be shocked to know that I am now in a PhD program and have spent most of my time over the past decade doing various kinds of community service and development work. I am happy to share pretty much any information you might want if you have more specific questions.

Has it been a smooth road?
My journey has been fairly turbulent with lots of starts and stops. I almost dropped out of college, and I did not know what I wanted to do with my life when I finally did graduate. After I got my masters it took me quite a while to find a job and even then I ended up working several jobs to make ends meet. I worked in social services, church ministry, editing and publishing consulting, and a couple other sorts of jobs. I did find a lot of fulfillment in many of those jobs, however, and I especially loved the ministry work I did with the church, particularly serving homeless and otherwise marginalized people.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Diapers, Etc. and Owenwood Market – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My wife and I started a small diaper bank back in Kentucky at the church I worked for at the time. When we moved to Dallas for me to go to school we realized there was a need here as well. Thankfully we were able to team up with White Rock United Methodist Church at their new missional campus called Owenwood Farm and Neighbor Space. Likewise, we found an amazing partner in Hope Supply Co. who provide many of the items we distribute.

We now have a monthly (last Saturday of every month) free market where we offer items like diapers, wipes, rash creams, feminine hygiene products, adult diapers, and more. Also, in conjunction with a number of partners we should soon regularly have fresh produces, basic medical care, legal help, and occasional other services like dental care, plus we are constantly adding items to the market including in-house made laundry detergent coming soon. Eventually we hope to have a social worker available and other services our community needs as well. Also, we have a few big events planned for back to school like providing school supplies and other goods and services that families need to get their kids’ school year started off right. More information should be available to the community soon about those events.

To date (in about eight months’ time), we have distributed over fifty thousand diapers and four thousand feminine hygiene products along with countless wipes, rash creams, and other items. We are currently serving a little over eighty families per month, most of whom come from our neighborhood in East Dallas.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the variety of people in Dallas. We have folks from all around the world, spanning multiple age groups, and all across the socio-economic spectrum. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself disappointed that these various groups are often separated from one another and especially that this is a very racially and economically divided city. I think we can and must do better to bring people together and create an equitable community for all people.

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