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The Nurses Apron Partnership

Our Story

In the fall of 2006, a group of nurses who had graduated together from Vanderbilt University forty years earlier gathered in Nashville for their class reunion. A series of events occurred over the course of that weekend and in the ensuing weeks that led to the formation of The Nurses’ Apron Partnership (TNAP).

TNAP is a grassroots organization, unaffiliated with any religious or other social group. It is the mission of TNAP to assist nurses to provide health care services which might not otherwise be available.

Marti Mueller Daniel, VUSN 1966, holds her adopted apron. Marti was so taken with her apron, which had a bit of biscuit dough on the pocket when she adopted it, that she did not want it to be washed and ironed for its professional photograph!

TNAP initially included fifty nurses from fifteen states and from Kenya who joined under the symbolic power of aprons to contribute literary submissions to our book, Gotcha Covered: A Legacy of Service and Protection, with the hope that revenue from the book could fund our support of nurses in Kenya. When we realized that lofty goal would take much more time to succeed than we wanted, we found another way to begin to make a difference.

TNAP has recently evolved in to a donor portal—a doorway—through which anyone who is a nurse or who admires and supports the contributions nurses make to health care can pass on the way to helping fund the education of a Kenyan nurse. Our doorway takes you to our humanitarian partner, Burning Bush Inc.(BBI), a microcredit organization founded by Poppy Buchanan and her friends and family. BBI has been investing, through seven microlending cooperatives, in sustainable community development in Central Kenya since 2005.

Poppy had taught the class of 1966 nursing students during our public health rotation in Williamson County, TN, and she had been a favorite faculty member to many of us. When she was recognized at the 2006 Vanderbilt University School of Nursing reunion by receiving the Alumni Award for Excellence, the returning members of the class of ’66 were thrilled to be able to be a part of her honor. Without Poppy’s work many mothers and children in that region literally might not be alive today.

Later that day, several class members who were attending another reunion event adopted a vintage apron from a collection passed on to Ginger Manley by her aunt, Katherine Maloney, who had recently moved from her farm home of 60 years near historic Jonesborough, TN, to a retirement apartment. The vintage aprons inspired stories and other creative legacies in their adopters, and eventually other nurses joined the core group to contribute their submissions based on an apron adoption. We have learned that the role of the humble apron in the lives of women and of nurses is rich with inspiration, humor, defiance, fiction, and deeply held memories of love and nurturing!

As far as we know there has not been another nursing grassroots organization with a similar mission, vision, or process. We hope and expect that nurses worldwide, as well as other interested people, will want to be a part of this effort. Nursing has historically been about providing care to those who cannot at the moment care for themselves. TNAP continues that tradition forward into the twenty-first century.