The Secret of the 9 Nanas #AtoZChallenge

For more than 35 years, 9 women from Tennessee have been part of a secret group that would stealthily seek out houses in low-income neighbourhoods, looking for specific features. Having chosen their targets, they would return before the sun came up. The women called themselves The 9 Nanas.

The idea began 30 years ago when the 9 women were sitting around playing cards and thinking of MaMaw and PaPaw (grandparents to 4 of the 9 women) and how MaMaw would always keep track of who died in the area and send them one of her special pound cakes. The idea was simple: to console them and bring a smile on their faces. The 9 women wanted to emulate that but knew it would not be easy.

They began by setting aside around $400 a month by doing their own laundry. They then used their ears, eavesdropping on others conversations in supermarkets and beauty parlors. When they heard about people who had suffered a loss or needed help with bills, the 9 Nanas would spring into action.

Even as their husbands snored in bed, the women would assemble at 4 in the morning and bake pound cakes and ensure they get delivered before heading back to their normal lives, leaving behind only the suspicious scent of vanilla, lemon and lime. The packages they gave had cakes, money and a personalized note that said "Somebody loves you." As they helped more people, they grew bolder driving right up to the doors in the dark and delivering the packages stealthily like burglars before rushing back home and into bed before their husbands woke up.

For 35 years, 9 women from Tennessee were part of a secret group. They would eavesdrop in public conversations and find out people suffering from personal loss. Then the 9 Nanas would meet up stealthily before dawn, bake pound cakes which they left at the person's doorstep along with money and personalized messages of hope. When their husbands finally found out 3 decades later, they too joined in. Till date, the 9 Nanas, now in their 70s, have donated $900,000 worth of happiness. Their identities remain a mystery even today.

Amazingly, they did this for 30 years before they finally got caught when one of their husbands demanded answers for the extra car mileage and the large bank withdrawals. Panicked, his wife called the others and a huge conference of families was held. And that is when the fun really began. The husbands - and later their kids too - joined in, setting up an online store and baking 100s of cakes a day.

The Nine Nanas even held a Happiness Happens Month Celebration annually wherein they would send cakes secretly to one person in every state in America who they felt had made a positive impact in their community.
The Nine Nanas even held a Happiness Happens Month Celebration annually wherein they would send cakes secretly to one person in every state in America who they felt had made a positive impact in their community.

That day, playing cards in their house decades ago, these women wished they had a million dollars to help those in need. Today, the 9 Nanas have contributed over $900,000 worth of happiness to their local community all by themselves.

For 35 years, 9 women from Tennessee were part of a secret group. They would eavesdrop in public conversations and find out people suffering from personal loss. Then the 9 Nanas would meet up stealthily before dawn, bake pound cakes which they left at the person's doorstep along with money and personalized messages of hope. When their husbands finally found out 3 decades later, they too joined in. Till date, the 9 Nanas, now in their 70s, have donated $900,000 worth of happiness. Their identities remain a mystery even today.


Final thoughts:
The identities of the 9 Nanas are still unknown even today. But somewhere in a kitchen in Tennessee, there are a group of women - in their 60s and 70s now - baking pound cakes for the less fortunate even as you read this.

“Not everyone is as lucky as we were to have MaMaw and PaPaw to take care of them, to fix all those things that are wrong. So this is our way of giving back. We want people to know that someone out there cares enough to do something. We want to make sure that happiness happens.” 
- The 9 Nanas.


Author's note:

This is part of my #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion.
The list for this year's (2018) Heroes of Kindness can be found here.
Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity. You can find the entire list of Real-life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion here.



   

14 Comments

  1. Oh my what a story. Reading your blog everyday has made me realise how kindly souls think - so out of the box and with only the intent to bring peace to someone! I wish I had these nanas living in my area! This is such a heart warming story!
    Thank you so much Doc for the daily dose of goodness - I start my morning on this happy note everyday!

    N is for Night Circus #atozchallenge

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  2. wow happiness month and such kind souls, wish i can join them.

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  3. You are spreading so much happiness with your posts you seriously have no idea.We live in a selfish world but when I visit your blog and read a story each day I feel blessed and inspired. Blessed to see that I am cohabiting this world with so many wonderful souls and inspired because I feel that maybe I should also pay back in my own little way. Kudos to you for curating these amazing tales of benevolence. https://trinalooksback.com/2018/04/16/nani/

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  4. This is the sweetest thing I read today. I needed this. ❤

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  5. Spreading joy and happiness with pound cakes--- 3 cheers to the 9 nanas.

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  6. Lovely! These people are indeed heroes of kindness and should be celebrated.

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  7. Hats off to these 9 nanas. They did a selfless act of kindness for others.

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  8. "Somebody loves you!" Small three words but they can have a profound effect on the person who is going through loss and turmoil. Hats off to the 9 Nanas for bringing smiles and cheer in so many lives!

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  9. What a wonderful story Roshan! Loved it. Inspirational to start doing some good today

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  10. Mouthwatering happiness and caring love... What else does one need! Wish I too get the courage to rise above my selfish life and do something like these nanas.

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  11. This melts my heart. I would love to do this for the people around too. This is that inspiring.

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  12. It is so good to read these stories, world seems a happy and noble place.

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  13. Such a heartwarming story of human generosity and kindness. It made my eyes misty. Thank you for sharing such joyful post.

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