No babies were in attendance when Jill Bright received the annual Humanitarian Award at a luncheon Thursday, Dec. 5, honoring her work in founding the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks.
But if her “clients” were there, she says they would be happier, healthier, better rested and more inclined to cuddle because they’d be wearing clean, fresh diapers.
“Our babies will grow up to become happier and healthier adults,” Bright said in accepting the 30th annual Humanitarian Award. The award was founded by the late Jewell Thompson Schweitzer, a longtime CFO donor and volunteer leader who wanted to recognize individuals in southwest Missouri who find their calling in service to their communities. The honor includes a $5,000 award for the recipient’s favorite cause in appreciation for his or her service.
Jill Bright, the 2019 Humanitarian Award winner, founded the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks in 2012. She is never without a few extra diapers, ready to assist a family in need.
Her journey began in 2003 when, living 200 miles away from her children and grandchildren, she decided to volunteer with Newborns in Need by sewing items for babies leaving the hospital with families in need. While attending a conference a few years later, she learned about the extent of diaper need in the United States.
“She returned to the Ozarks, ready to get something done,” said Janet Furneaux, a Diaper Bank board member who nominated Bright for the award and introduced her at the luncheon.
Jill Bright, center, receives the 2019 Humanitarian Award from Laurie Edmondson, CFO board member, and Abram McGull II, CFO board chair. Edmondson is the goddaughter of Jewell Thompson Schweitzer, the founder of the Humanitarian Award.
Bright started the Diaper Bank in 2012 as a volunteer, which lasted for seven years — about 22,000 hours of service — before eventually becoming a paid executive director. She now serves as a grant writer and consultant.
What started with supplying four agencies with diapers has now grown to more than 100 across a 59-county region. The Diaper Bank anticipates distributing one million diapers this year, about a fourth of its total number since its founding.
“To Jill, a diaper is filled with hope; it’s her belief that a diaper can change a life,” Furneaux said. “She is a woman with a passionate, serving heart.”
Learn more about the Diaper Bank
View Past Humanitarian Honorees