Ashley Teller, a then VBE for BWI of Hampton Roads in Virginia, was moving to Knoxville. She used Facebook to help her find other babywearers in the community and found Mary Rodio and Jenny Arden. As it turned out, Mary was trying to start a BWI chapter with Carrie Plemons, while Jenny was trying to start a chapter with Sarah Murray. Coming together for the mission, the five teamed up and in January of 2014 became BWI of Knoxville.
Over the past year, BWI of Knoxville has grown rapidly. They have a hundred paid members and over a thousand people in their Facebook group. Popular carriers in their library are the Tulas, but they also received a donation from a local handweaver that has been very popular too! They recently had an open house fundraiser for their anniversary. It was wildly successful and raised $1800 for their chapter! During the fundraiser, you would even toss a pie at Educator Carrie. They reached out to many local businesses for donations and had a silent auction. See more about their open house here. This fundraiser will allow their group to pursue more outreach and promote babywearing on a larger scale.
BWI of Knoxville has two meetings a month – one in the daytime and one in the evening. They would like to branch off a third meeting on a Saturday as their library grows. Ashley believes that Knoxville has an amazing community. “I love that our chapter is very welcoming to all types of caregivers,” she says, adding, “Our local community always supports us in our efforts to raise babywearing awareness here.”
Their advice to chapters starting out: Starting a group can be a lot of hard work and learning to work together is challenging. But as long as you can focus on the reason you’re doing what you’re doing, which is helping caregivers and babies; you can look past all that and come together to make something great.