Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Basic Needs

Making concessions and cutting back have been constant themes in my life for the past two years. It’s been a sad reality of the current economic time. Even when I had a job, there was a persistent looming fear of impending unemployment. When my archaic, non-flat screen TV broke, my wife scowered her online community (thank you Nesties) for a new TV. Not only were we given a TV that was even better than the one that broke, we were also offered a couch and a bed (which we didn’t need, but appreciated the offer!). The kindness of “strangers” has helped a lot of people in need.

My first job out of graduate school was for a small start-up company. Right before I started, money was poured into the company from outside investors to develop a cool technology aimed to revolutionize certain sleep disorders. But here’s the truth about “other people’s money”: they control you…and your fate. They can pull the funds without notice. This is hardly unprecedented.

When the subprime bubble burst, it didn’t take a genius to know our greener days were over. The outside money, which had been staked in real estate, immediately dried up and soon after, so would my company. I agreed to take a drastic pay cut just to help us all stay afloat longer…or until I could find another job. However, other, more stable companies were having massive layoffs. Even if a job opening was posted, the competition flooded the market. Some weeks I got paid. Most weeks I didn’t.

My wife and I were no strangers to living “cheaply”. Our entire relationship had survived the financial realities of a graduate student income paired with a non-profit salary. Some concessions were easy. That LCD TV could wait. That weeklong vacation could be substituted for a short weekend getaway at a friend’s house. Other cutbacks were difficult. Stopping payments into our son’s college fund was tough. That new house would have to wait despite the fact that we were bursting out of the seams of our current home. All of these cutbacks were a means to an end. It was temporary until something better came along.

Despite all of our concessions, we’ve been relatively fortunate. Thanks to the kindness of friends, family and even strangers, never once did we have to sacrifice basic necessities of life. We could always provide food and a comfortable, safe environment for our family.

However, many people have it worse. Many families have sacrificed basic necessities, such as food, electricity, and even shelter. One of the most over-looked sacrifices is diapers. When families have to choose between food, rent, electricity, or diapers, they are forced to cutback on this basic child necessity. Instead, many of these families who struggle with diaper need reuse soiled or wet diapers. Furthermore, daycare facilities often require a day’s worth of clean diapers, so instead of sending their children to daycare, they stay home with them unable to work. It can be a vicious cycle.

The lack of clean diapers is a serious health risk that has often been overlooked. Most public resources focus solely on food and nutrition for families, but do not cover the cost of diapers. Children are forced to wear wet, dirty diapers for extended periods of time, which can result in physical and emotional suffering.

A Life Unexpected is proud to be volunteering in partnership with the National Latina Health Network, to shed light on this unmet need. Huggies has created a program, called Every Little Bottom, to help get diapers to babies in need. In the next eight months, Huggies will donate up to 22.5 million diapers to babies in the U.S. and Canada, with many of these diapers going to diaper and food banks.

With your help, A Life Unexpected aims to contribute at least 500 diapers to the cause!

This is our chance to help make a difference. A Life Unexpected is organizing our second outing, but this time, in addition to fun, we aim to aid those in need. We will host two separate play dates at Holmdel Park – one on a weekday and one on a weekend. To help support families struggling to provide the basics for their children, we ask that you bring an unopened package of diapers. It doesn’t have to be much (and it doesn't have to be Huggies) because every diaper helps. Of course, large boxes will be greatly appreciated as well. All diapers will be donated to the Huggies Every Little Bottom campaign.

Holmdel Park features the Historic Longstreet Farm, where we can visit with horses, cows, pigs, and other animals. It’s a great place to let the kids explore nature while we socialize and have fun!

Send an email to alifeunexpected.jtm@gmail.com to receive an official evite. The evite will include additional information, including dates and directions. I’m really excited to help make a difference – I hope you’ll join us!



  1. Thank you for this wonderful GTG idea. We all can make a difference!!!!


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