Alumna addresses diaper need through nonprofit

By Pareasa Rahimi

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing alumna Lindsay Gray, RN (BSN 2006), is using her passion for women and children to improve access to essential needs of Alabama families as Executive Director of Bundles of Hope Diaper Bank. Founded in 2015, the diaper bank serves more than 1,000 families per week through the distribution of diapers, wipes and feminine products.

After graduating from the UAB School of Nursing, Gray spent time working in labor and delivery and home health, and taught birthing and CPR classes to new parents. In 2015, she was approached by members of her church with the opportunity to be on the founding board of Bundles of Hope.

“I can’t imagine caring for women not being a part of my life. It’s a part of who I am and it’s my drive and my purpose—cheering women on and just being a cheerleader,” Gray said. “Bundles of Hope gets to do that after the phase when the excitement of having the baby can get hard and challenging, and a lot of moms in our care don’t have the support that they deserve and need.”

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in two families in Alabama experiences diaper need, which is now being looked at as a possible social determinant of health. If not addressed, it can lead to other complications, such as urinary tract or staph infections.

“The role Bundles of Hope plays is significant and substantial in the lives of families here in Alabama, which is the sixth most impoverished in the country. Families in Alabama struggle with this more than most comparatively, with some having to make the choice between food or diapers, and it affects other areas of a family’s health as far as nutrition goes,” Gray said. “Part of our work has also been to peel back the stigma of living under resourced. As a society, we have set a judgmental tone when it comes to parents who live month to month barely making ends meet. It’s a normal response when you feel criticized and critiqued about your parenting, and you love your baby just like the next mom loves her baby—you just don’t have enough money to pay for diapers.”

Bundles of Hope distributes 225,000 diapers per month, 50,000 of which are from direct service through the nonprofit’s warehouse, The Changing Station, located in Birmingham. The remaining 175,000 diapers are distributed through partnerships with local organizations including church food pantries, shelters and health care providers. In 2017, the diaper bank began distributing feminine products, opening an opportunity to engage with and meet the needs of mothers and mixed-generation families.

Partnerships are crucial to extending Bundles of Hope’s impact beyond the Birmingham area. After being named a sub-grantee for a Health and Human Services diaper pilot program from the Community Action Agency of Alabama in 2023, the diaper bank established a partnership with the UAB School of Nursing’s Nurse-Family Partnership of Central Alabama. What began as a referral relationship in 2022, with nurse home visitors informing clients about the resource in the community, has evolved to nurses delivering diapers and supplies to NFP mothers during home visits. NFP currently picks up on average 17,000 diapers a month, delivering roughly a two-week supply of 100 diapers to clients.

“A nurse showing up with diapers in hand means a lot to the moms and builds trust. It’s another tool for us to meet the needs of families and together make greater impact,” Gray said. “Linking arms with NPF that is already doing incredible things is smart and strategic. It’s a win-win—making nurses’ and families’ lives easier.”

NFP’s recent $8.8 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant funding expansion to 27 additional counties creates an opportunity to reach and support more families across Alabama.

“For us to develop a partnership with one entity that has that big of a reach makes implementing that partnership smoother,” Gray said. “I’m a nurse and I believe in the program. I know the data is there for the outcomes and the proof is in the results.”

Looking toward the future, Bundles of Hope’s goal is to create long-lasting systems change. As a mother-baby advocacy organization, the team attended the Lobby Days event in Washington, D.C. this past April to speak with congressional representatives, further amplifying the voices and needs of Alabama women and children.

“Along with carrying out the work, we have an obligation to talk about the work. This opportunity has been instrumental in Bundles of Hope being awarded the Health and Human Services diaper pilot program and has moved the needle at the state level as well,” Gray said. “Current legislation has been presented to exempt mother and baby items from sales tax. If passed, this would save our mothers millions of dollars annually. That’s real change—the kind that lasts.”

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