The resiliency of Southeast Louisiana was put to the test again this summer as the second-most damaging and intense hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana came ashore near Port Fourchon on August 29, 2021. Hurricane Ida left many Louisianians homeless and without the means to meet their basic needs, including the need for diapers. Diaper need is a cause that is near and dear to the heart of the Junior League of New Orleans, and in the aftermath of a disaster, JLNO is uniquely prepared to help meet that need. Through its Diaper Bank in Elmwood, The Junior League of New Orleans has provided over one million diapers to women and families throughout the metropolitan New Orleans area over the past two years.
In the wake of Hurricane Ida, many people across the country were eager to help those affected in Southeast Louisiana but were unsure of the most effective way to make a difference. Heidi Hayne, Program Coordinator for the Nashville Diaper Connection (“NashDiaper”), is one of those people. Heidi is a native New Orleanian who is now living in Nashville and was feeling helpless as she watched her hometown begin the recovery process after the storm. Through the National Diaper Bank Network, she discovered the JLNO Diaper Bank and decided that connecting with JLNO would be “the best approach to get the most diapers to those in need”.
Heidi has a personal connection to JLNO as she is a native New Orleanian who currently resides in Nashville. Her family’s friend and past Junior League of New Orleans President Erin Luetkemeier was able to connect Heidi and NashDiaper with the JLNO Diaper Bank. The two organizations began working together to get diapers from the NashDiaper warehouse in Nashville to the victims of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans and surrounding areas.
Heidi enlisted the help of Brandi Jack, Operations Coordinator for NashDiaper, and together they loaded 31,525 diapers into the NashDiaper van and headed down to New Orleans to participate in the JLNO Hurricane Ida Disaster Diaper Drive, which was held at the JLNO Diaper Bank in Elmwood on September 13, 2021. Being able to make a difference to those affected by this natural disaster meant a lot to Heidi. “I was really excited to bring the two worlds together,” she said.
Among the Junior League members volunteering at the Disaster Diaper Drive that day was Junior League of New Orleans President Shannon Brice. Shannon was thrilled for JLNO to be part of an event which would have such a huge impact in the community.
“I was overwhelmingly grateful to Nashville Diaper Connection for their generous donation” she said. “We were able to help so many families in the New Orleans and River Parish areas due to their generosity. It also shows the impact the JLNO is making in the community for an organization such as NDC to reach out and want to help Louisiana families through the JLNO Diaper Bank. We are committed to making a difference.”
When asked what JLNO can do to connect other charitable organizations with those in need in our area, Shannon said, “It starts with a conversation. Fostering relationships with mission aligned organizations and promoting a community work environment.”
Also volunteering at the Disaster Diaper Drive was JLNO member and Lagniappe magazine Editor, Shanelle Joseph. Shanelle also expressed her gratitude to NashDiaper.
“Having witnessed firsthand that there are still great people who are genuinely concerned with the well-being and safety of strangers reminded me of my purpose and personal commitment to voluntarism,” she said. “The thought of parents feeling helpless as they struggle to provide for their children breaks my heart. I am grateful to JLNO and the Nashville Diaper Connection for providing me with the opportunity to be of service to those in need.”
Shanelle believes that articles like this (and readers like you) are great resources at the disposal of JLNO for connecting charitable organizations like NashDiaper with those in need.
“As Junior League of New Orleans’ 2021-2022 Lagniappe Editor, I am pleased to report that JLNO announces its diaper drive within Lagniappe’s quarterly bulletin board,” she said. “Lagniappe is delivered to over 5,000 homes and businesses in the Greater New Orleans and surrounding areas. Interested (and potentially interested) persons are provided with awareness of League events such as holiday socials, retail markets, membership opportunities and most important – our humanitarian efforts such as the diaper drive. While JLNO receives generous donations of diapers throughout the year, we always welcome new donors as well as volunteers to assist with sorting donated diapers. Our community council and board of directors are staffed with League members who have made tremendous strides with connecting JLNO to other charitable organizations.”
NashDiaper was not the only other charitable organization with whom JLNO partnered for the Disaster Diaper Drive. Prior to the delivery of diapers by NashDiaper, Charmaine Caccioppi, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, visited the JLNO Diaper Bank to pick up diapers and deliver them to the City of Love Church in Holly Grove. This is a great example of several organizations working together to get necessities like diapers from generous donors to communities in need.
Since its inception, JLNO has been committed to making a difference through voluntarism and community improvement. That commitment is never more evident than in times of crisis. The Junior League of New Orleans is a valuable resource for organizations like NashDiaper who are seeking avenues to get their donations to the people who need them most, as well as organizations like United Way of Southeast Louisiana who are seeking donations to bring to those in need.