The nonprofit organization Nashville Diaper Connection was launched in June 2013 by Doug Adair and strives to ensure that every baby in Davidson County has enough diapers to stay clean, dry and healthy. It has received $45,000 in grants from the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund.
Nothing like tornadoes and a pandemic to remind us some of what is truly important on this earth:
No child wet behind.
Such is the slogan of Nashville Diaper Connection, a nonprofit organization that truly understands that the bare necessities of life start at the bottom.
This is true both anatomically and economically. Estimates are that one in three families in Middle Tennessee struggle to buy diapers.
Nationally, the poorest 20 percent of U.S. families spend 14 percent of after-tax income on diapers, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington, D.C.
So when a series of deadly and destructive tornadoes struck Middle Tennessee in early March — followed quickly by the coronavirus pandemic that remains unchecked — fresh diapers ranked up there with food and shelter among the must-haves.
Diapers joined toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer as products that flew off the grocery shelves, leaving shortages that we’re just now starting to overcome. Nashville Diaper Connection quickly experienced an unprecedented need.
By early June the organization was serving more than 2,600 families a week: a 340 percent increase of its normal demand. And estimates are that this figure only meets 5 percent of the area’s need.
Help came from near and far.
Nashville Diaper Connection normally partners with 32 agencies, serving an average of 86,354 diapers a month. By late March, just weeks after the tornadoes, the organization had distributed 155,926 diapers through 44 different organizations across Davidson, Wilson and Putnam counties.
Elementary, Middle and High schools stepped up with donation drives. So did churches, and police departments.
Health care clinics gave away free diapers along with curbside immunizations for children ages 4-6. Partnership have abounded with other nonprofit organizations and agencies, including Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and Connectus Healthcare. Media coverage has been extensive and far-reaching.
Throughout, Nashville Diaper Connection asked for a little to help a lot. Your donation dollars to the organization mean:
$10: Emergency supply of diapers for two babies.
$25: Diapers for six babies.
$50: Diapers for 13 babies.
$100: Diapers for 26 babies.
$250: Diapers for 66 babies.
$500: Diapers for 133 babies.
From the start of post-tornado-pandemic, national diaper brand Huggies of the Kimberly Clark company and The National Diaper Bank Network have been prime supporters. Huggies has made more than $42,000 in grants to the organization. Among local partners, the Nashville-based Frist Foundation chipped in $20,000.
Lauren DeYoe, volunteer coordinator for Nashville Diaper Connection, replied to questions from The Community Foundation
CFMT: How has your organization been using the tornado emergency response grants?
NDC: Getting more diapers! Since the tornado on March 2-3, we have distributed 1,283,691 diapers, which is a 200% increase compared to last year.
CFMT: In light of changes in how we all live and work due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, how is your organization managing to work in supporting tornado relief and recovery efforts? What challenges have you all overcome or are overcoming?
NDC: Because of COVID-19, we could not have volunteers in our facility to wrap diapers. This caused a huge dilemma, since we wrap all our diapers in packs of 25, and we distribute 50 diapers per child per month. We all brainstormed and came up with an idea of having volunteers wrap diaper packs at home. We called this initiative, “Doing good at a distance.”
We sent out an email to a couple of neighborhood groups, and we ended up with 30 families helping us wrap between 20,000-30,000 diapers a week through June! These volunteers were heroes in our book. Without them, we would not have been able to serve the many families experiencing diaper need. Thankfully, we are now able to have volunteers back in [the office] weekly and hope our corporate groups can come back in when things normalize for them.
CFMT: Give a favorite example of your staffers or volunteers stepping up to make a difference to help people through these disasters.
NDC: Here’s a testimonial from Mary Pierce, part of a volunteer family that has been wrapping diapers at home
“During the quarantine, wrapping diapers as a family on Sundays after (online) church became a bright spot for us in uncertain times. For babies, the need for diapers never stopped, even though providing them became much harder for so many Nashville families due to the financial impact of COVID-19.
“We also created fun memories as a family, with music playlists and breaking our personal best wrapping time of 2,000-plus diapers packaged in just under 45 minutes!
“Knowing that we could give back in some small way by wrapping diapers for families in need gave us a positive perspective, and we are so grateful for the work of the Nashville Diaper Connection.”
CFMT: In terms of tornado relief and recovery, what needs remain in your community?
NDC: The families using our diapers suffered from the tornado and COVID-19 at the same time. We will continue to distribute diapers and support any family in diaper need, whether due to the tornado and/or the pandemic.
CFMT: Define the word “hope” for you and your organization
NDC: Here at Nash Diaper, we instill hope in all that we do. Our mission is to ensure every baby in Nashville has enough diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy. We believe, desire and trust that we will accomplish our mission. There will be setbacks and challenges, but our foundation is strong, and we always look for the good