This year has been one for the books. It has literally been a great year for Bottoms Up. We have formed new relationships/partnerships, received some grants, and had our largest donation to date.
A year ago, I was speaking with a friend and former diaper bank parent. I explained that I wanted to do more with Bottoms Up and that I felt that I had been neglecting it. Though I was still serving families, I was not actively putting Bottoms Up out as I had in the beginning.
Life has done what it does, it happened!
Personally I was in a healthy progressing relationship, working on my finances in order to buy a home, three active children, and work. I had a lot on my plate.
I had a short list of things that I wanted to achieve for the diaper bank. I wanted to increase the number of families that the diaper bank served, get donations in, spread the word about Bottoms Up, and work on the 501c3 status.
Remember, I am a single mother of three with little outside assistance with day to day operations.
I reached out to a former classmate and local entrepreneur Barbara Miller of Elite Entertainment. I spoke with her about what I wanted to achieve with the diaper bank. She put me in contact with a local organization that she volunteers with, got me an updated flier, and posted on her social media about the diaper bank. Barbara’s reach was far greater than I thought. With her assistance, the diaper bank was able to start serving families in Tuscaloosa. She also hosted our very first diaper-a-thon, where we raised over $800 to assist in purchasing shelves to hold diapers.
Next I reached out to another classmate and former coworker for assistance, Corey Cockrell of Next Level Leaders (a nonprofit in Greene County). Cockrell & Next Level Leaders had donated to Bottoms Up in the past and he remained a supporter. (Corey was a hard man to reach, lol.) But once we were able to speak, I explained to him my current goals for the diaper bank and seeked his assistance. Not only did Corey come through, his organization gave Bottoms Up $1000!
A few weeks after speaking with Corey, I was contacted by Trendle Samuel of Black Warrior Community Action Team. The Black Warrior Community Action Team’s mission is working to reduce infant mortality in West Alabama. So basically, they are about mothers and babies. Trendle and I scheduled a time to speak, and discussed the diaper bank and the possibility of working together in the future. The community action team gave Bottoms Up $500.
With the help of Corey and Trendle’s organizations I was able to start the process of the diaper bank having its own nonprofit status. I reached out to India Hartman of Hartman and Hartman Consulting, to assist us with our non-profit paperwork. I know I could have done it myself. I feel God gives us all talents and I reached out to someone with the talents that I needed to get the process right. She was available to answer any question that I had and worked around my schedule for our sessions. She has even been available to answer random questions that have come up after our official business was done (plus she has done a random check-in or two).
While waiting for the non-profit status to be approved, we received our largest donation to date. Bundles of Hope Diaper Bank, in Birmingham donated Bottoms Up over 30,000 diapers.
Once the paperwork was finished, the long waiting period began. It was the longest 4 months ever! But in Aug. I found out we were officially a 501c3 federally recognized nonprofit organization. After that was done, I started the process of applying for the Walmart Community Grant. That was stressful!!! They denied Bottoms Up several times. I had to submit and resubmit our information before finally being approved, in Nov, to apply for the Walmart grant. With the Walmart grant, we are able to apply to several Walmarts & Sam’s Clubs at the same time (each site is a separate grant). We applied to 6 Walmarts that we are in their service area. We received grants from 4 of them totaling $5500!!!!
In all of that, I would be remiss if I didn’t give recognition to the woman and organization that helped make Bottoms Up possible. Mrs Johnnie Knott of Woman to Woman Inc, allowed me to use her space and sponsorship from Woman to Woman when Bottoms Up started. I am grateful for her support from the beginning.
I am also thankful to Ms. Pinkie Travis for her help in having a location in Tuscaloosa to distribute from. She has been our liaison with New Life Baptist Church, since the beginning of the year. I am thankful to her and New life for their support.
I am thankful to Mrs. Peterson of Stepping Stones Learning Academy, for providing us with space to store diapers and being a donation drop-off site.
I am thankful to Mrs. D. Shaw for being our liaison with Forest Lake United Methodist Church. They have provided up with storage space and is a donation drop-off location.
I am thankful for Teresa Atkins of T & C Sno Biz; Mrs. Akira Spencer & Sheriff Benison of Greene County Sheriff’s Office; Ms. Lateasia Harris of Greene County Parks & Recreation; and Mr. David Shaw of Griess, Shaw, & Willingham, P.C. in Eutaw, for being donation drop-off locations.
I am thankful for Cassius Lanier of Lanier Automotive; Donnie Lee of the The Lab; YMCA of Tuscaloosa-Benjamin Barnes Branch, in Tuscaloosa, for being donation drop-off locations.
Last but definitely not least, I am extremely thankful for my family for all their support of me and my journey of starting and running a nonprofit.
I am thankful for everyone who has supported Bottoms Up Diaper Bank and those who will support Bottoms Up in the future.
*A lot has happened in 2021. If I missed anything, the post will be updated.