Monday, February 28, 2011

On doing the good that you can do

Saturday night, Dave and I capped off our sushi date with a trip to the AT&T store, because we are nuts that way. Over dinner, I'd mentioned that I was thinking of giving up my BlackBerry, and he couldn't wait to check out iPhones. We bought one, and I'll be sending my BlackBerry to the Gift A Voice Project, which gives a voice to kids who are speech impaired via donated phones. A Facebook friend told me about it the day before.

It's just one small thing I can do, and I'm glad for it. I guilt myself out for not doing enough good in this world. I miss the weekly volunteer work I did in my twenties, before I had kids. I get so busy with Max stuff, general kid stuff and work that I don't have much free time to do local activities. And it bothers me. Charity may begin at home, but it shouldn't end there. Giving your husband foot rubs is not a humanitarian effort, even if he seems to think so.

This is why I was thrilled to be invited to a salon at Johnson & Johnson last week, along with 13 other bloggers, to talk about a few of the company's philanthropic programs and ways to use social media for social good. I ended up focusing on Text4Baby, through which moms-to-be can sign up for free reminders to improve their health and their baby's. I'm not sure how they knew that I am the biggest baby lover (although those posts about having a third kid might have given me away).

Text4Baby is geared toward low-income women, who typically lack Internet access and may have limited education and reading time. These women are more likely to not get medical care until their third trimester, or just completely go without it. Getting friendly reminders to not smoke or make sure their baby back-sleeps can make a significant difference in their lives and their children's; every year, about 28,000 children in this country die before their first birthday, and many more end up with major health problems because they were born prematurely or had a low birth weight.

If you tell a pregnant mom about this program, a mom who would benefit from it, it would be a simple way to do good, right? I'm hoping to. That's the way it goes—you want to help those in need in a big way, yet the reality is it happens one text, one gesture, and one donation at a time.

J&J didn't ask me to write any of this; I'm genuinely impressed by the programs they run that save lives, in this country and others. They are going to pay me a consulting fee for attending the salon, and I'm paying it forward: The money will go toward an iPad I'll give away here. I also got a $25 gift card that I spent at the company store, mostly on Johnson's Baby Shampoo; the kids have a lovely habit of dumping it out into the tub.

Have you done good lately that's made you feel good? I'd love to hear your ideas.


  1. Wow, that sounds like a great program, I hope many expectant moms sign up for it!

    Life without my BlackBerry? I just can't imagine it. But I like the idea of donating my used phones to kids. Now if I can just keep this phone in one piece until I replace it.

    You know before I had my 2 younger kids I did a lot of volunteer work, I haven't done much of anything like that lately. I miss it. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I organized a canned food drive in my neighborhood, and brought over the cans to a food bank at a local church. The thing about doing good is that it just doesn't help others, it makes you feel really good. You get a volunteer high!

    I know someone who will benefit from Text4Baby, and will let her know about it. I also know of a doctor I can mention it to who works with a lot of women who could use it. Thanks for the info!


  3. I make donations of used clothing etc. to goodwill a few times a year - and, sometimes, while I am there donating, I may buy a few things that they are selling - you would be surprised what you can find at a goodwill store.

  4. It's so funny that you would write on this topic today. Just the other day I was feeling wistful about the time I spent volunteering before kids. My Dad and I used to go into Philadelphia on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to visit elderly shut-ins and bring them dinner and gifts. When I was young, he once dressed up as Santa after finding out about a very poor family in the area. Bringing them presents on Christmas Eve - and knowing they believed my Dad was the real deal (actually - he is!) - was one of the highlights of my life. I feel like my volunteer heart prepared me for all the extra work I put into Gavin. And I know...when I get more time back...that I will be sure to incorporate volunteer work in my children's lives.
    For now - the best I can do is to pay it forward with "things". When Gavin is done with equipment or other things that are hard to get your hands on, I give it away. Duoderm, a Leckey Squiggles Stander, a Leckey Waistcoat... it feels good to help another child. Lord knows so many people help mine.
    Gavin is back in surgery as I write this. The people at this hospital (A.I. DuPont in Delaware) really know how to do good! They treat us so well...and are willing to accommodate our requests. Gavin was wheeled back into the O.R. with his Christmas snow globe blaring and the Anesthesiologist and his colleagues were all singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" while Gavin smiled away. THAT felt good to this scared Mommy.
    As for you, are ALWAYS doing good. Don't discount all the good you do with this blog. You help a lot of people with your words... probably more than you know.

  5. Love the iPhone. Max and Sabrina will love it too. Your giving away an iPad that's very cool.. I need to enter that. My daughters communication team is moving her Communication book to the iPad as long as I provide one. I working on figure out how to fund it winning one would be even better.

  6. I agree with Kate that you do so much good in writing this blog. It's a huge encouragement. We volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House because we stayed there and know the benefits of its existence. On the other hand, we have benefitted from the good of others just this weekend. We received an accessible van. We're amazed by how the community rallied and are very excited. Our local paper wrote an article here.

  7. so nice to hear about a big company doing good as well. and you are beyond generous to donate your fee to an ipad giveaway.

    i dont volunteer much since having kids, but i do hope to do more as they get older.

  8. Kate: I hope the surgery went smoothly, thinking of you guys. And that his snow globe continues to keep him calm.

    Sunday: Some 135,000 moms have already signed up for Text4Baby. I also love that program. Let me know if you start volunteering! I want to figure something out, too. Like Liz, I did a canned food drive in December, but I'd like to do more.

    Heather: Amazing news about the van! Loved the newspaper article. Now Max and Aidan can both obsess over Toyota Siennas!

    Thanks for the nice words. I hope to be able to give away the iPad soon.

  9. this is amazing - and falls nicely into my project that I'm currently doing:

  10. I like volunteering at my daughters' school. I feel a sense of accomplishment and I get to be a fly on the wall! My volunteer work also helps me meet the other moms at the school which I think is very important for me and my girls.


Thanks for sharing!

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