COMMUNITY GEMS: Centerville man described as an ‘incredible volunteer’

Kelly McDonald applies for grants, delivers diapers for Dayton Diaper Depot

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

When nonprofit organizations present at the Centerville Rotary Club, Kelly McDonald often follows up with a question: What help do they need?

Such presentations are how McDonald was introduced to both Dayton Diaper Depot and Threads of Miami Valley, where he now volunteers.

“What I can do through service is make a real impact, create the world I want and do it one step at a time,” he said.

McDonald is “an incredible volunteer” and takes on whatever task needs done for Dayton Diaper Depot, said Maggie Schneemann, its executive director and co-founder. The nonprofit organization is on track to distribute more than 400,000 diapers this year – including its 1 millionth to be given away since it began in 2021.

“Whatever we need, he is the first one there,” said Schneemann, who nominated McDonald as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

McDonald not only has bundled diapers, but also has assisted with IT initiatives and communications. In addition, he is instrumental in applying for grants, both in finding them and completing the paperwork.

Dayton Diaper Depot distributes diapers to 50 agencies within Montgomery and surrounding counties, Schneemann said. Those include high schools, food pantries, social service agencies and more. The need keeps growing, she said.

“Diapers are expensive, and we need a constant flow of money coming in to buy these diapers,” she said. Applying for grants can be labor-intensive, and his efforts help bring in the needed funds.

Threads of Miami Valley provides clothes, shoes and coats to those in need, and McDonald volunteers there by sorting the clothing, preparing the shopping area and engaging with clients. He also delivers diapers from Dayton Diaper Depot to Threads, where he sees firsthand the difference they make.

“When they ask for a pack of diapers and put it in the cart when they’re shopping, that’s one less burden, one less obstacle for them, and I think that’s pretty incredible,” said McDonald, 53, of Centerville.

McDonald, who moved to the Miami Valley in 2022, was born in Seattle and earned a doctorate in organizational communications in Kansas before becoming a graduate professor in communications, mostly in Arizona.

In 2012 he switched from higher education to healthcare management, and he was an operations manager for a healthcare operator in Hawaii before arriving in Ohio. He now works at Aetna, where he oversees dual special needs plans for those who have both Medicare and Medicaid.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Rotary Club has been a constant as he has crossed state borders. While he enjoys volunteering with organizations that work directly with their clients, and the club has introduced him to those, he encourages everyone to think about how and why they want to help.

“It’s not hard to find organizations to match with to meet that need,” he said.

Big, systemic problems can be difficult to solve, but through his volunteer work McDonald gets much closer to the issues.

“You build a waterfall by a series of drops of water,” McDonald said. “We’re not going to cascade solutions if we don’t start small.”

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