By Amy Ferguson
Photos by Morgan Hunt
Twenty years from now, when we reflect back to the coronavirus pandemic that shook the world and disrupted all of our lives, what will you remember? For me, I’m confident it will be nurses: the ones on the front lines who repeatedly put themselves in harm’s way, sacrificing their own physical, mental and emotional health to fight the pandemic; the ones who worked extra hours in departments they’ve never practiced in before; the ones who remained at the bedside, holding the hands of the dying so they wouldn’t be alone.
Even in the pre-pandemic world, which seems like a lifetime ago, it always took a special breed of human to serve as nurse. The gig demands a servant’s heart, a supernatural capacity to remain calm under pressure, and the herculean ability to offer kindness and compassion to others in their most vulnerable moments. Hoover’s very own Lindsay Gray is one of these superhumans.
Lindsay originally hails from Pell City, but has lived in Hoover for the past 17 years with her husband and three children. When she isn’t going above and beyond for others, she can be spotted exploring around the Moss Rock area or relishing all the magical flavors one can discover at the Tasting TBL in Ross Bridge. Raised by a mother and father who were both nurses by trade, Lindsay’s fascination with the complexity of the human body was inevitable. Her own career in nursing began at one of Birmingham’s largest hospitals, where she worked for a decade as an obstetrical nurse and childbirth educator. In this role, her passion for women and children rose to new heights with each passing year, but her perspective as a young nurse shifted when the hospital began serving Medicaid patients.
“[In serving a new demographic of patients], I discovered that birth isn’t always an exciting time for a very large group of women in our community,” Lindsay says. “For some, it’s extremely stressful having little to no support system.”
One woman in particular Lindsay will never forget. The patient was young, vulnerable and certain she was in labor, but it was a false alarm. Instead of packing up to head home with her partner or support person, the nurse caring for the patient was obligated to call a taxi to escort her home.
“I had a hard time understanding how she had no one to call to pick her up,” Lindsay recalls. “I wanted to know where she was going, if she was going to be safe and if there were things that she needed. At this same time in my personal life, I met Jesus. The concept of love in action and serving our neighbors really collided all at once in different areas of my life.”
So when members of Lindsay’s church formed a local diaper bank in 2014 and asked her to participate as a founding board member, she was of course all in. As an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Bundles of Hope Diaper Bank set out to supply diapers to those in the Birmingham community who live below the poverty line. In its first year alone, the nonprofit served over 1,000 families and distributed nearly 20,000 diapers. And while the team was excited to have reached so many people, they were only getting started.
“We always had our eyes set on growth,” Lindsay says. “We quickly realized we were onto something that could be scaled into a mammoth mission”.
In 2017, Lindsay was named the executive director of Bundles of Hope and has elevated every aspect of the organization since. Fast forward to 2020. As the story now goes, an unexpected and devastating pandemic hit families all across the world, and suddenly, the need for organizations like Bundles of Hope was at an all-time high. And so was Lindsay’s energy, focus and high-level of determination to meet the physical needs of our community’s tiniest residents as well as the emotional and/or financial needs of their caregivers to get them out and on the other side of the coronavirus crisis.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we amped up our network of volunteers to meet vital needs of babies and their families,” Lindsay says. “We were able to provide diapers, wipes, and other essentials by safely implementing drive-thrus, door deliveries and quarantine kits.”
And the impact of these efforts was truly staggering. In 2020, Bundles of Hope shared $1,173,356 in resources, which translates to 731,356 diapers and 17,137 families served. And thus, a new bar was set. In 2021, Lindsay’s vision of success for the organization was defined as distributing at least 1 million diapers by partnering with other non-profits and ministries across the state to impact as many Alabama families as possible. And they are well on their way to reaching that goal.
Jessica McLean, the diaper bank’s program resource officer, has been a key player for Bundles of Hope ever since she became involved almost six years ago. She fell in love with the intimacy of the small group of women who served local families with diapers and now considers it a privilege to follow the lead of her boss, mentor, fellow mother and friend, Lindsay Gray.
“Lindsay lives and breathes this mission,” says Jessica. “Our team is composed of strong capable women who love our mission and give a lot to it, but we all draw from Lindsay’s love, guidance and passion for this work. She has a genuine desire to affect change and connect with people on the most basic human level, and always goes the extra mile to make sure those we serve feel respected and loved. She is a true force for good.”
As we slowly emerge from the pandemic in 2021, Lindsay continues to her use forces for good and has worked with her team to expand the Bundles of Hope diaper drives to include all elements of a woman’s journey from postnatal care and breastfeeding to periods—including a movement to destigmatize and normalize this very natural part of human life, a phenomenon that has come to be known as “period poverty”.
“This is a silent, under-discussed need in our community,” Lindsay says. “We have to start having conversations about our periods.”
The reality is that 1 in 5 American girls and millions of women worldwide cannot afford the hygiene products they need on a monthly basis. That means there are barriers for participating in activities, going to school, etc.
“We aren’t having it,” Lindsay exclaims. “We are going to do something about it, and we are going to change some things.”
GET INVOLVED WITH BUNDLES OF HOPE
Donate new as well as opened/outgrown packages of diapers of any size as well as pull-ups, wipes and period products. Donations can be dropped off at the following locations:
- The Changing Station: 1430 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35203
- You can also call (205) 607-2112 to schedule a pick up.
Join the Period Pack
Sign up to provide period products to a neighbor in need of access to this vital resource for only $10 a month.
Volunteer Your Time
Help out by bundling diapers on the first Saturday of the month. The team repackages diapers into bundles of 25 and each family receives two bundles a month, a week’s supplemental supply.
Host a Product Drive
They are easy to organize and can be hosted by an individual or group such as an office, church, school, or club. Bundles of Hope will provide collection bins and informational flyers.
Be sure to sign-up for the Bundles of Hope monthly email to stay in the know on events, volunteer opportunities, etc. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram at @BundlesDiapers.
For more information on how to get involved, visit bundlesdiaperbank.org.