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Exploring Life & Business with Muriel Smith of St. Louis Area Diaper Bank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Muriel Smith.

Hi Muriel, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Yes, I am happy to share my “origin” story with your readers. I received my bachelor’s in communication with the intent of seeking out a career in public relations. I wanted to be the voice of a company and help them with its public persona. What I found when I entered the market was that I didn’t possess enough experience yet to qualify for those types of positions. So, I ended up falling into nonprofit work instead. Most small nonprofit organizations need staff who are jack and jill’s of all trades because they do have a large enough budget to hire for all of the staff they require. I was able to get in on the ground level, doing mostly administrative work, but built up my experience and skills to take on higher-level positions. I have done public relations/communications, fundraising, volunteer coordination, community engagement, and been part of management teams for organizations. But, the pinnacle of what I wanted to do with my career, was to run a small nonprofit organization myself. I have amassed so much experience and knew that I could be at the helm. So, I set a 5-year goal for myself and continued working towards that goal until I found the perfect organization that matched my personal mission with my professional one.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been some hits and misses along the way. I questioned if I was on the right path or in the right industry or even if I was making all the right decisions. Do I have what it takes to do the job? I found myself suffering from imposter syndrome at times. Had to push myself through obstacles and put a public persona forward, when I really wasn’t sure of what I was doing. Was I someone who could take charge and guide and lead an organization or not? I’m sure many women in leadership question themselves and their abilities constantly.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The St. Louis Area Diaper bank was formed in 2014 after the founder, heard a story on the radio from the director of the National Diaper Bank Network about the prevalence of diaper need across the country, about how 1 in 3 mothers routinely finds herself without enough diapers to keep her child clean and dry. Stories of families across the country making tough choices between diapers and food or medicine, being forced to leave little ones for far too long in dirty diapers, and even having to reuse soiled diapers because they couldn’t afford to buy more.

The St. Louis Area Diaper Bank partners with other nonprofits and agencies that work with families and individuals in need. Through community diaper drives and donations, we collect or purchase diapers and distribute them to a wide variety of service agencies and faith-based organizations. The St. Louis Area Diaper Bank believes all of us: babies, children, and adults deserve to be clean and dry.

St. Louis Area Diaper Bank strives to make a health, social and economic impact by not only providing diapers and period supplies but by connecting them to these resources and other resources through our partner agencies. Providing families in need with free diapers influences a range of positive outcomes for these families, such as positive changes in parental mood (reducing the risk of childhood abuse); improved child health and happiness (nurturing their ability to learn); and increased opportunities for childcare, work stability, and school attendance.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I like that St. Louis has the ability to feel like a small town, even though you are in a “big” city. Everyone here is so interconnected to each other and the 6 degrees of separation is REAL! I like the different neighbors and areas of the city that offer different vibes. I love the pride that we all have for St. Louis. We rep our city well from STL t-shirts to 314 day. It’s lovely to be a part of that. The thing I like least is that we have a real divide amongst us. City vs County, Delmar divide, racial and socio-economic. It would be great to see us rally around the entire region and embrace each other that way.

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Image Credits
Heidi Drexler Photography

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