A Voice for Introverts

It has been a pretty fascinating development on how the internet has provided introverts a great platform to share their voices. There are A LOT of posts and articles out there about introverts. Some information has made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.  I have read articles almost seeming to ‘attack’ extroverts and/or making the introvert a superior type of person. I have come across writings that make the introvert seem absolutely unapproachable. Then there are the articles that make me think, ‘Isn’t this human nature? Don’t most people feel this way?’. So I am very picky when it comes to reading information related to introverts.

As a result, I want to share a book review that gives a nice work+Life fit to the idea of giving the introvert a voice.  I first heard Morra Aarons-Mele interviewed on the podcast, Extreme Productivity by Kevin Kruse. Her book entitled, Hiding in the Bathroom, described my exact actions as a Speech Pathologist in my first year! I ended up at a school that had not had good SLP support and so there were SOOO many questions from teachers – that I didn’t feel qualified to answer. Ergo, I found myself hiding in the bathroom to avoid some of those questions.

I thought her book gave such a good description in accepting yourself as you are, her own personal struggles, and how to put yourself out there. Even if you aren’t attempting to run a business, I thought it had some really interesting perspectives.

Here are few I really enjoyed:

‘Now that I’ve realized my anxiety is apart of who I am, and that, rather than fight it all the time, I embrace what it gives me, like excellent people skills, empathy, and drive”

‘Don’t think of crying in the bathroom as hiding – think of it as an opportunity to tune into what the crying is telling you’

‘Love your hermit self, but remember it’s not your entire self”

‘Just because your vision seems less ambitious than the stereotypical business powerhouse, doesn’t mean you can take it less seriously’

‘…kindness, caring, and pride in your work is one of the most powerful tools.’

‘…you should take as much pride in a teeny, low-paying, low-profile project as you do a a major one – and treat the client the same’

‘….bathroom hiders, counter intuitively, actually have a great advantage in negotiations, since we’re strongly attuned to both others and ourselves…’

‘Introversion, anxiety, and hiding in the bathroom are not weaknesses’

Have your read this book? What did you think?

6 Steps to Start a Diaper Bank

In 2014, I saw a news report about a diaper bank that had been robbed in North Carolina. Wait, what? A diaper bank? Why did I not know this was a thing?

Later, I causally mentioned to my husband that I would like to start a diaper pantry in our community.  He loved the idea and the rest is history.

Are you interested in doing the same? Check out some of my top tips below and feel free to ask any follow up questions in the comments below!

Get Educated!

Check out the National Diaper Bank Network and find out if there are already diaper banks operating in your area. If so, volunteer, donate, or communicate with the organization to find out what else they may need. The website is also chock-FULL of stats and info related to diaper need.

Find a Location

You’ve done your research and your eyes have been opened to the diaper need in this country.  Although diaper awareness is growing, there are still many gaps around the U.S. with diaper giveaway locations. It’s time to start asking questions.

Where are the families in your area that could benefit from receiving diapers? Start talking to your local organizations that may already be supporting families in various ways. Maybe you personally know parents struggling to purchase diapers. I received 100 emails from moms, dads, and grandparents asking for diapers the first month we opened the diaper bank in Kentucky. When you start talking about this, it won’t take long to find the need.

Where will you distribute diapers? We have done this twice now and both times we were able to do it out of church buildings. Many local churches and other service organizations are looking for new ways to help their communities, ask around if one of them might give you some space to get started. Where else might you be able to do to make this happen? Will your families easily have access to that location by foot or bus? Could you team up with another organization, say a group that provides food or medical services?

Build Up Supply

It’s now to time to GET diapers (and likely wipes and rash cream too). The first go around we spoke to several churches and charitable organizations (think scouting groups, community give-back programs at local companies, and service clubs like Kiwanis) in the area and asked for donations on a monthly basis. We asked each group if they could do a drive for us only once or if they could commit to doing so annually.

The second time we were able to team up with Hope Supply Company who serve as our primary supplier of diapers and feminine hygiene products. Each month they deliver our most needed sizes and supplies right to our door.

Gather Volunteers

Now, you can’t do this alone. You will need volunteers to greet families, provide hospitality, fill orders, and keep the bank stocked/organized. You can likely find volunteers through the same outlets where you find supplies, but also post on sites like Nextdoor, or just start with friends and family. You might even contact the nearest school to see if staff members, who are already invested in your community, might come help and invite students and parents to join in.

Advertise

It’s time to open! How are you going to let families know about it? Make simple fliers with the who, what, where, and when. Pass them out to local free clinics, WIC offices, schools (some schools have designated staff people who always looking for just this sort of opportunity), faith communities, day care centers, and other places where families with kids are likely to go.

Hospitality

Treat your families like VIP’s because they are. For example, at Diapers Etc. we provide free childcare for weary parents, offer snacks with coffee and juice, and encourage volunteers to show genuine concern for our guests largely just through listening to their stories. Depending on your context, it might also be helpful to find translators to smooth out the communication with guests who speak other languages than you. The goal here is not just to get diapers on kids, though that is important in itself, but to offer kindness and space for friendships and community to grow.

Bonus Tip: Ask What’s Next

Once you have done all that and your diaper bank is running smoothly, start asking what other items folks in your area might need. For instance, at Diapers Etc., we also provide feminine hygiene products, adult incontinence supplies, and an ever-expanding inventory of important goods like cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.

 

Have any thoughts or ideas you would like to share? Any questions you would like to ask? Please do so in the comments section below.

 

 

 

5 Things We Provided at the Christmas Toy Giveaway + DIAPERS!!

Today, Owenwood Missional Campus in partnership with Hope Supply Company held a toy giveaway for the community.

We wanted to provide an enjoyable and stress-free experience for parents and grandparents, fun activities for their children, and an welcoming space to the families of this community.  This was a time to build relationships and trust by meeting the needs of the neighborhood.

So…what did we do??

1. Nursery

Parents could shop for their toys without their little ones tagging along.

Our nursery was safeguarded by a mix of volunteers and our much adored Hope from Black-Tie Babysitting. It was typically for ages 3 and under, however, there were occasionally older children that joined as well.  And although this picture shows only 3 children, we had plenty that transitioned in and out every 20 minutes or so.

2. Cookie Decorating

            Parents with older children could stay in our auditorium and pile up as many sugary toppings on cookies as they could fit :). Many of the older children stayed in this area while parents picked out toys in order to prevent spoiling the Christmas surprises.

     3. Crafts

          After finishing decorating cookies, children could head to the next table and create ornaments.  Becky, our children’s minister provided  so many stickers, glitter, glue, beads, and much more to keep everyone busy for quite a while.

4. Coffee Station

 Right before entering the gym to gather the toys, parents and grandparents were able to stop by and doctor up a cup of hot coffee.

5. Wrapping Station

After choosing the gifts. parents could go and get them wrapped by a group of volunteers mostly made up of a local fast pitch softball team.

And of course my favorite topic – diapers. This was our 4th opening of Diapers, Etc. at this campus and we were able to give out 5,900 diapers (that’s 118 clean bottoms!), around 80 packages of wipes, and several bags of feminine hygiene products.  We even had a couple of families interested in volunteering.

It was a success, with no problems what so ever! Woo Hoo!

Uh..ok, well, we had one problem

An old pipe busted under a sink that was in the diaper storage area. Not to worry though, we had experts in house that corrected it before anything was ruined.  After a little (a lot!) of mopping and a shop vac we were back in business.

Have you ever been apart of a Christmas toy giveaway in your community? I would love to hear your ideas!