It was the late 70’s when it started. 4 a.m. It doesn’t matter, you pick a day; it was every day. While some women were still in bed, some making their coffee before work, some would soon wake their children for school – nine Tennessee women were on a mission. Nine hearts working together – four sisters, their sister-in-law, and four friends.
Their mission began as simple reminiscing during a card game about their MaMaw and PaPaw. The four sisters had been raised by their grandparents and saw them operate their home with love and a sense of community that lent itself to numerous charitable acts in all different ways. MaMaw Ruth routinely searched through the paper for notices of anyone that had passed away. It didn’t matter if they had ever met; she would send them one of her special pound cakes to try and brighten a painful time in their lives.
Recalling those wonderful memories made the nine ladies begin to brainstorm ways they could honor their grandparent’s legacy by helping others themselves.
Someone suggested they all do their own laundry and begin clipping coupons so they could set aside the money they saved to be used as anonymous gifts of love. They also began shopping department store sales to pick up clothes to have on hand for someone that might be in need. The women were able to set aside approximately $400 dollars a month for their covert missions. Their husbands were none the wiser.
They began with two groups in mind; widows and single moms. They would do whatever they could. Pay a utility bill, supply clothes for the children, leave bags of groceries, or even make car payments. Dropping off packages under the cover of darkness each morning with a note that said, “Someone loves you” along with one of MaMaw Ruth’s pound cakes. Over time their missions grew to include any home they would notice had no lights on at night to someone they overheard had a need. The unknowing family would open their front door in the morning to anonymous love in the form of care packages.
For three decades these nine ambassadors of good will continued their missions in secret; until just five years ago when one husband began to question the mileage on their car and some cash withdrawals from their savings account. The women were dedicated to their work but were draining their own savings accounts. Worried about what her husband must have been thinking she called an emergency meeting of all nine women and their husbands. The women spilled the beans about their 30 year old operation.
Quietly waiting for the responses from their husbands, the women were pleasantly shocked when they all volunteered to help. The men were pleased and amazed at what their wives had been up to all these years. Never seeking credit or recognition – but the complete opposite; anonymity. Even more so was their shock that they had never caught on to what their wives were up to all these years. Now armed with more helpers they were able to increase their outreach. The men began writing down addresses they could tell had no electricity and would pass it on to their wives who could remain nameless at the electric company while they laid down a simple scrap of paper with an address and a handful of cash to go along with it.
The now nine couples were bubbling with excitement at the increase in lives they were able to touch and decided it was time to tell their adult children. The kids all encouraged their mom’s to start an online business selling MaMaw’s pound cakes in order to fund their charitable operations. Shortly after they rolled out their website they were receiving over a hundred orders a day.
“The 9 Nana’s” as they like to be called now conduct their secret baking operation in the commercial kitchen of the restaurant owned by one of their children. Arriving in the wee hours of the morning and leaving before the staff arrives; the women bake 100’s of goodies each day. Ranging in age from 54 to 72 these humble saints aren’t slowing down either! They’ve even hired their own “happiness coordinator” to be an undercover spy in the community searching for those in need. Recently they donated more than $5,000 of pillows and linens and personal care products to a shelter for survivors of domestic violence.
Over 35 years of placing packages in the dark of night on doorsteps of those in need the Nanas have contributed almost $900,000 worth of loving support.
To learn more about The 9 Nanas and Happiness Happens or to purchase one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes, you can visit their website: Happiness-Happens.com.
This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October. Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.