Strobel Volunteer Award recognizes a student who positively impacts the world in her daily life
by Jessica Bliss
Mary Meacham ’23 first reached out to Nashville Diaper Connection at the end of her sophomore year in high school in 2021. She wanted to find an organization to volunteer on a long-term basis and possibly use her Spanish language skills. What she experienced gave her so much more.
Volunteering with NashDiaper not only introduced me to the wider-reaching problems of Nashvillians but also brought me face-to-face with parts of the city that I had not known. I felt as though I stumbled upon work that both lights me up and interests me to learn more.
That understanding spoke directly to Harpeth Hall’s mission to teach global perspectives, and it inspired Mary to deepen her connection to the organization. She quickly became one of NashDiaper’s most valuable volunteers, taking on a volunteer leadership role in wrapping diapers, delivering diapers, and leading volunteer groups. She served, the organization said, as “an important link in filling a need that often goes unmet in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.”
In May, Hands On Nashville recognized Mary’s Diaper Connection work with one of its most prestigious honors —a Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Award for direct service in the youth category. The Strobel Awards honor volunteers of all ages and backgrounds for their inspirational service to their communities and celebrate Mary Catherine Strobel, a Nashvillian who displayed dedication to service throughout her life.
Collectively in 2022, Mary volunteered more than 190 hours of her time to NashDiaper, wrapping more than 243,800 diapers for more
than 4,800 babies in need in Middle Tennessee. She also dedicated more than five hours of her time to helping NashDiaper with lesson plan ideas for the first-ever Winterim class on poverty and early childhood development. In that enrichment class, 27 students wrapped 5,150 clean, dry diapers serving 103 babies—something that wouldn’t have been possible without Mary.
Mary, who will attend Vanderbilt in the fall, is also an active volunteer with Study Buddies for Equity and has worked with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, fundraising for cancer research. For Jessie Adams, Ph.D., director of Harpeth Hall’s Public Purpose program, Mary exemplifies what it looks like when students take what they learn about understanding, navigating, and impacting the world and display it in their daily lives.
“I tell students often that when we know better, we do better,” Dr. Adams said. “... So it’s not enough for students to just know about the world; they also have to understand how to effectively and ethically act upon it. Part of our mission is to graduate students who ‘make meaningful contributions to their communities and to the world,’ and we need to make sure they have the skills to do that in a thoughtful, collaborative way. It’s where the meaningful part lives.”