Merlene Davis: A Lexington man is wiping out a need by giving away diapers

Herald-Leader columnistFebruary 22, 2014 

  • HOW TO HELP

    "Cover Our Butts" is a local campaign created to donate 5,000 diapers and wipes to Chrysalis House Inc., the oldest alcohol and substance abuse treatment program for women and their children in Kentucky.

    To mail checks or drop off gift cards or diapers: Ten Kids Inc., 517 Southland Dr., Suite B, Lexington, Ky., 40503.

    For pick-up: Call (859) 229-4536.

    To donate on-line: Visit Tenkids.org.

I often hear folks say they want to give back to the community or help those in need, but they just don't know how to go about it. And often, though they want to help, they also want assurance that their money or time will not be wasted.

I haven't been as sympathetic toward those people as I probably should have been because, to me, their hesitancy has the ring of another excuse to avoid getting involved.

I say, if you have doubt about the intentions of others, do something good yourself.

Timothy "Gip" Gibson is an excellent example of that. In 2009, Gibson and his wife Kim co-founded Ten Kids Inc., a non-profit foundation based in Lexington that provides a safe home, food, water, clothing, medical care and education to a small number of children in Haiti.

Currently, the foundation is supporting seven children who have experienced physical, mental or sexual abuse. Ten Kids is also helping 21 other children and is working with organizations that strive to rid the Haitian population of intestinal parasites, caused by drinking unsanitary water.

Gip and Kim's trips to Haiti have slowed recently because they have adopted a daughter, Irie.

"I'm trying to do more here because with a little one it is harder to get over there," he explained. "I felt like I needed to do something in the community."

His something? Last week Gibson bought boxes of diapers and wipes and headed for the Chrysalis House Inc., a recovery program for women.

"I thought they would be able to use them," he said. "I also wanted to see how they would handle it when people bring them things."

That's when he met Sherry Jackson, office manager at Chrysalis, who was warm and appreciative, he said.

"Whenever I look at partnering with somebody, I want to test to see the response before I ask my friends and family to support them," Gibson said, explaining that he talked with the women before telling them about the diapers he was donating.

Jackson and executive director Lisa Minton were surprised they had been tested but grateful they had passed the test.

"They picked us out of the blue," Minton said, "and Sherry struck up a conversation."

"I really did like him," Jackson said.

Chrysalis House is the oldest and largest licensed substance abuse treatment program for women and their infant or toddler children in Kentucky. Older children can spend the night on weekends.

The program has a professional therapist specializing in the treatment of substance abuse and mental health disorders. Minton said 70 to 80 percent of the women have co-occurring disorders.

"We treat the woman as she comes to us," Minton said.

The Chrysalis House also offers domestic violence programs and a child therapist.

A new facet is a mentoring program for women re-entering society from prison and some jails. The mentors begin relationships with the women while they are incarcerated, Minton said, and continue that program after their parole.

"When they get here, they have the mentor here to help," she said. "It is different than an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. The mentor is a friend to talk to and work through issues with."

Gibson talked with Jackson for a while during his visit and Jackson said she appreciated his interest in Chrysalis House.

"I had no clue who he was or why he was here," Jackson said. "We had an instant connection."

Gibson then told Jackson he had some diapers in the car he wanted to donate, and they went out to get them.

Minton Tweeted a photo of the diapers, saying, "Thank you to Ten Kids, Inc. for wonderful donations for our babies. We are so grateful for community support."

Twenty-six babies were born to women at Chrysalis last year, so donations of diapers and wipes are appreciated.

Jackson sent out a thank-you letter within 24 hours of receiving the gift.

"That is just what I do," she said.

Since then, Gibson has been sending out requests on his Twitter account and Facebook asking people to help donate 5,000 diapers and wipes to a campaign he's calling "Cover Our Butts." He has already received about 500 diapers from friends and people who follow him on social media.

Want to help? You can. Chrysalis prefers diapers sizes 1-6. The newborn size is outgrown too quickly. Diapers and wipes can be brought to the Ten Kids offices at 517 Southland Drive, Suite B. Or if you need it, Gibson will come and pick them up.

Monetary donations can be made on the Ten Kids website through PayPal, or by check. Gift cards are also welcome. One hundred percent of what is donated will go to the Chrysalis House.

"If you give me 20 bucks, I will buy $20 worth of diapers," Gibson said.

Gibson's generosity got me thinking: Can you imagine what this community, this state, this country or this world would be like if we all just picked one need and met it?

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: mdavis1@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog: merlenedavis.bloginky.com.

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