Happy 4th Birthday, Teeny Tears!!
A Message from Megan Bradshaw, Founder and President of Teeny Tears:
I launched this project and website in November 2011 in memory of my son, Dex J Bradshaw, whom we lost to undiagnosed Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. I had long been searching for something that I could sink my energy into, something that would transform my grief into something more useful than a week under my covers with the Halloween candy!
It has occurred to me how ironic it is that I never thought to name the organization or website "Dex's Diapers". It's catchy enough that if I had thought of it, I'm sure it's the name I would have chosen. However, it never did come to my mind and I like to think that it's because even back then, God knew that even though this project was inspired by Dex, it was never meant to be just about him and his legacy, but about each and every one of the angels that we honor through our individual sacrifices. It's about each of us who serve, for whatever personal reasons that drew us into the project.
I launched the website as a way to track and organize my own personal donations of itty bitty diapers to local hospitals and bereavement photographers. That was it. I didn't know "way back then" that Teeny Tears would evolve into a world-wide angel baby diapering and advocacy movement! I couldn't know that an army of angel enthusiasts would join our cause to "Diaper the Earth" in memory of their own lost little ones. I didn't know that I would find the very best friend, diapering partner, and vice president that a girl could dream of in Vanessa Pollard. I didn't anticipate the enthusiasm with which our diapers would be welcomed into hospitals across the world. I couldn't foresee the many meaningful personal friendships and experiences that I would have on this journey. Every choice and every small step into the unknown has been made in faith. I have tried my best to follow every little crumb of inspiration that has come along the way.
I spent probably a thousand hours (or more) just breaking through the bureaucracy of our first 300 hospitals, explaining our program and our diapers over the phone to bewildered hospital staff. "Tiny diapers, whaaaa?" Now they seek us out (1,000+ hospitals and counting!) When we decided to start our Facebook participation group, we wondered if ANYONE would EVER join it. Today we are over 1,700 members strong (which doesn't include countless volunteers that are not on Facebook). I answer between 400 and 600 emails and Facebook messages per week. In 2012, we went through quite a learning curve, when we had to be trained in the complexities and legal requirements of being a non-profit 501c3 charity in full compliance with the laws of the land. We've learned so much.
There is an entire team of unsung, unseen Headquarters Heroes that works tirelessly behind the scenes to keep this project running. I may be the president and mouthpiece of the organization, but I am surrounded and strengthened by generous, thoughtful, selfless, creative, supportive men and women who help make my life a whole lot easier. We work with individuals, families, youth groups, scout troops, churches of all denominations, sewing guilds, and schools. We partner and collaborate with existing bereavement support organizations to serve families in their care. We maintain a database of more than 1,000 hospitals, run the diaper-request adoption program, organize resupply deliveries, personalize distribution cards for every donation, and help our volunteers keep from duplicating diaper donations. We help connect diaper volunteers together within their various communities for local support, diaper coordination, events, and friendships. We puzzle together local donations out of our Headquarters into meaningful contributions for hospitals and organizations in need across the United States and Canada; sewing, pinning, ribboning, packaging and shipping thousands of lovingly donated diapers for hospitals in need. We maintain the website, oversee the Facebook group, transform donated fabric into diapers, raise funds, host events, ship wooden patterns, and work the phones to gain entrance to more hospitals. And we love it.
It isn't always glamorous, and like any other worthwhile endeavor, some days are really quite difficult. But I see miracles in this project every. single. day. Every day that I am associated with Teeny Tears is a blessed day. So, happy birthday, Teeny Tears! And happy birthday to my darling Dex, who is watching all of this from above with what I imagine is great amusement.