191: Muriel Smith (St. Louis Area Diaper Bank)

Muriel Smith on Innovation City

“That’s resilience- being able to pivot and change and come up with new ways of doing things.” -Muriel Smith

Welcome to Season 5 of Innovation City (The St. Louis Edition), a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency and Aīre Ventures, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community.

Welcome to Season 5 of Innovation City (The St. Louis Edition), a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency and Aīre Ventures, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community.

Today’s guest is Muriel Smith, Executive Director at the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank, where they work to end diaper need and period poverty through access, education, and advocacy. Muriel has nearly twenty years of nonprofit leadership experience serving the St. Louis community. In this episode, Muriel sits down with the team to discuss the tremendous need families have for essential products like diapers and period supplies, the attributes of great nonprofit leaders, the challenges to nonprofit work, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Muriel’s Superpower
    • Organizational skills
  • The St. Louis Area Diaper Bank
    • The STL Diaper Bank has two programs: the diaper program and the period supply program.
    • Their small staff of five miraculously distributes 3 million diapers and 500,000 period supplies yearly.
    • Some of the critical skills needed to keep things running smoothly are staying organized and keeping everyone connected. It’s vital that the staff doesn’t operate in silos.
  • The Diaper Bank’s Story
    • The St. Louis Diaper Bank is part of the larger National Diaper Bank Network, which has over 200 diaper bank members. It’s a new nonprofit, founded in 2014.
    • The founder saw a news story about the national network and found out there was a huge need for diapers in St. Louis, so she decided to start a diaper bank.
    • The diaper bank has experienced immense growth in a short amount of time, going from distributing 1,000 diapers in 2014 to distributing over 3 million diapers a year today.
    • Last year they started distributing period supplies after learning about period poverty at a local event.
  • The Cost of Diapers
    • The average family spends $1,000 a year on diapers.
    • Babies go through ten or more diapers a day.
  • Muriel’s Career in Nonprofit Leadership
    • Muriel’s whole career has been in the nonprofit world. She felt a calling to be where the most need is in her career.
    • She started off fundraising and has expanded into numerous roles. Muriel’s position at the STL Diaper Bank is her second executive director position.
  • Biggest Challenges of Leading a Nonprofit
    • The biggest challenge facing all small nonprofits is having a small staff meeting a humongous need and mission.
    • Making sure that everyone is on the same page is one of the biggest challenges that Muriel faces every day.
  • Diaper Need in St. Louis
    • Despite distributing over 3 million diapers a year, the STL Diaper Bank still can’t provide the diapers to meet the need in St. Louis. They see themselves as functioning to fill a gap or provide families with a little extra to get them through hard times.
    • They doubled their distribution during the pandemic because there was so much more need. The need wasn’t just from low-income families; it was from everyone.
  • The Most Important Skills and Values for Nonprofit Leadership
    • Muriel has learned to be resilient, one of the essential skills of leading a nonprofit. She doesn’t let minor hiccups stop her.
    • Patience, know yourself and know your limits.
    • You also have to be a servant leader and truly understand that people are relying on you.
    • Nonprofit leaders must have the ability to understand where everyone is coming from.
  • The Need for Period Supplies
    • Period supplies are a burgeoning need that they saw that was going on across the country.
    • They’re working on the legislative side and the distribution side.
  • How can you help the Diaper Bank?
    • Monetary donations
    • They purchase most of their diapers through the National Diaper Bank extremely inexpensively because they have a relationship with Huggies, so they need the funds to buy them.
    • If you have time to volunteer, contact the diaper bank to come in and help them organize their supplies.

Lightning Round:

  • What is your perfect day?
    • Being on water on a nice day with a cool breeze
  • What was a defining moment in your life?
    • Becoming a mom
  • What question would you ask a fortune-teller?
    • When am I going to die?
  • What makes you feel loved?
    • Being around family
  • What risk are you happy that you took?
    • Taking the position at the diaper bank during a pandemic
  • What does success look like to you?
    • Everyone has the basic need items that they need to live their lives

Get in Touch

St. Louis Area Diaper Bank Website
St. Louis Area Diaper Bank Instagram
St. Louis Area Diaper Bank Facebook
Email [email protected]
Call 314-624-0888