For more than three decades, nine women have been secretly baking and delivering hundreds of pound cakes during the middle of the night to people in West Tennessee who could benefit from knowing that “somebody out there loves them.”
“We check the newspapers for births and deaths. The evening news is also another good source, said Nana Pearl, one of the four sisters who are the core of the group. Eavesdropping in the local shops and beauty salon is one of the preferred methods of picking up the scent of someone in need. “If we hear of someone who could use a little happiness, we do our darnest to track them down.”
The secret baking angels are not so surreptitious anymore. Since their kids are all grown now and most of the husbands are retired, they created a website at Happiness-Happens.com, where they sell their cakes online — about 100 each day — and raise money for charity. Their specialty lemon and curd cakes have been placed in expensive ‘swag bags’ at America’s most prestigious award shows.
In the past, the Memphis women, all between the ages of 54 and 72, who call themselves ‘The 9 Nanas,’ would gather in the predawn darkness to whip up their cakes. Today they’ve moved into the commercial kitchen of a restaurant owned by one of their sons. They carry out their motto, “Give and give,” instead of ‘give and take’ in other ways, too. Benefitting local battered women, Happiness Happens donated lush towels, robes, linens, and spa products to the YWCA. In the last 35 years, The 9 Nanas have contributed nearly $900,000 of happiness to their local community.
The organized do-gooding started over weekly bridge games. After awhile they’d pool together what money they had and buy groceries and pay utility bills for the sick and shut-in and help widows and single moms young children. “At the start of the school year, we’d trek to the stores for new school clothes,” said Nana Pearl. “When we shopped for our children, we shopped for someone else’s.”
Learn about becoming a Happiness-Happens Ambassador in your area on the website, www.happiness-happens.com.