Wrapped in Love
By Janelle Morrison
Imagine earning a wage of $1 to $4 a day while supporting your infant child who is hospitalized and battling a serious illness. In this scenario, the local children’s hospital has limited supplies, clean diapers are a luxury and disposable diapers are $1 per diaper. This is not an overdramatization for the parents and patients at the Benjamin Bloom Children’s Hospital in San Salvador, El Salvador. This is their reality, and their stories reached a local Zionsville business owner who felt compelled to find a way to use his resources and devise a plan of action.
Steve Schwartz, owner of Ballerinas and Bruisers, a children’s boutique in downtown Zionsville, came up with a plan after having a conversation with Zionsville resident Dr. Chuck Dietzen, the founder of Timmy Global Health. Dr. Dietzen is also the medical director of Inpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation at Riley Hospital for Children. It was during this fateful conversation that Schwartz learned about the deplorable conditions that the people of San Salvador exist in. He was told of the tragically limited resources that the local children’s hospital has available to their patients. Dr. Dietzen explained to Schwartz that he had witnessed mothers reusing disposable diapers that are clearly not designed for multiple applications. Schwartz reacted to this heartbreaking depiction of life in San Salvador by creating an event, specifically a diaper drive and connected with other businesses to spread the message to the local communities.
“I met Dr. Chuck shortly after opening my store in 2007. He’s been a friend and loyal
patron of my store,” Schwartz said. “He frequently stops in to pick up fun and zany things for his friends and for his patients to help lift their spirits. That’s just the kind of guy Dr. Chuck is. He approached me after returning from his most recent mission trip to San Salvador and what he described disturbed me greatly. I felt like there had to be something that we could do here to help, so the idea of a diaper drive came about.”
Schwartz reached out to fellow business owners in hopes to maximize the efforts and outreach for a greater result. The goal is to collect as many diapers as possible to fill a large container of supplies and food — organized by the People Helping People Network — that will be shipped to San Salvador in mid-March.
“We reached out to a friend and customer, Vivian Lawhead, owner of SoHo Cafe and Gallery in Carmel, Ind. Vivian and her family are known for their service to their community and philanthropic involvement. I was glad to partner with businesses like SoHo Cafe and Gallery on this particular project and help get the word out,” Schwartz concluded.
“We are holding a diaper drive beginning Feb. 14 through March 1. Ballerinas and Bruisers will be the Zionsville drop-off location and SoHo Cafe and Gallery will be another location in Carmel. We are reaching out to our friends, colleagues and customers to bring in new, disposable diapers, in all sizes. If we can pull together our resources, create awareness and help people like Dr. Chuck so that he can better serve his international patients and colleagues, then I feel like it’s a start.”
Lawhead was glad to come on board to help collect for the diaper drive as well as assist a fellow small-business owner.
“My husband and I are both 50-plus-year Carmel residents,” Lawhead said. “We have always felt that it is a giving community and the people are genuinely caring. It’s just a natural thing that when we find something that we believe in, it pulls the community together, and we’ve got the venue right here at SoHo to spread the word.”
She spoke on the importance of business owners making their communities a priority in their small-business operations.
“If you’re a business owner and you don’t want to feel a part of your community and be involved, then what’s the point? That’s what sets us apart from a big chain. We are a part of our community. We also want to show that our care extends beyond our immediate community.”
Dr. Dietzen explained that to break the cycle of poverty, one must first break the cycle of crisis. He along with Jeff Cardwell, founder of the People Helping People Network in Indianapolis, continues to make trips to San Salvador while focusing on this initiative.
“We live in a culture where we have access to luxury items and we often consider those items necessities,” Dr. Dietzen said. “Recently, I was in San Salvador at the Benjamin Bloom Children’s Hospital, a facility that Timmy Global Health and the PHPN are helping with the children’s care. When I was at that facility, I was on the cancer unit, and as I was talking to some of the people who were touring with me, I saw one of the mothers take a disposable diaper off of her child and wring it out so that she could put it back on her child.”
It was explained to Dr. Dietzen by the local PHPN leadership that these individuals, who have very limited means and making only $1 to $4 a day, would have to spend a significant amount of their income to be able to purchase one disposable diaper. “A simple donation like a diaper can make a substantial change in the quality of care and the health of a child,” Dr. Dietzen explained.
When people question why his efforts are focused on housing, clothing and hygiene, Dr. Dietzen replies, “It’s preventive medicine. If we can nip this in the bud, we won’t have as many complications that we have to treat in the medical arena. The People Helping People Network and Timmy Global Health are focused on programs that empower the people we work with. When someone challenges me with ‘Aren’t you making the problem worse by just giving it to them?’ I answer no. You’ve heard the expression, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime? Most of the people that I help are diaper-wearing humans. I have to start off by giving them a fish filet or two as I begin the empowerment program. We will teach them to fish. First we have to build their strength and trust in what we are there to do.”
Cardwell founded PHPN in 2001 and in December 2012, Governor-Elect Mike Pence appointed Cardwell to serve as the executive director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, or OFBCI. In September 2013, the governor appointed Cardwell as a special assistant to the governor, which is a Cabinet position in the Pence administration. His first visit to El Salvador was as a chaperone on a mission trip with his daughter. Since that visit, he has made numerous mission trips, many with Dr. Dietzen, to El Salvador over the past decades. Cardwell shares the same sentiments and strategies as Dr. Dietzen on how to the break the cycle of crisis if any permanent change is to take effect.
“We focus on issues of housing, hunger and health,” Cardwell stated. “You always hear people talking about ‘breaking the cycle of poverty,’ and our understanding for breaking that cycle is through education. Education is the key and is the long-term view. However, we take a little different approach in that before you have the opportunity to teach, you first must address breaking the cycle of crisis. We look at the cycle of crisis as a three-legged stool: housing, hunger needs and health. If you have people that are worrying about how they’re getting their next meal, worrying about where they are going to sleep tonight or trying to deal with a health issue, they cannot maximize their opportunities with education if they are living in the cycle of crisis.”
Along with the support of local businesses like Ballerinas and Bruisers, SoHo Cafe and Gallery and organizations such as Timmy Global Health, Kids Against Hunger and Habitat for Humanity, the People Helping People Network can address the crisis needs while focusing on education and long-term sustainability. When the basic needs have been met and education has been made available, the focus will realize a return on the investment and implementation of the programs and fundraisers that are ongoing in areas throughout Indiana, the United States and all over the world.
For more information on the Wrapped in Love diaper drive, contact Schwartz at 317-733-3400. If you would like to learn about how to become a volunteer or donate to the People Helping People Network, visit www.phpnetwork.org,
and for information on Timmy Global Health, visit www.timmyglobalhealth.org.
Wrapped in Love Diaper Drive
Feb. 15 through March 1, 2014
Disposable diapers in all sizes needed
Ballerinas and Bruisers
180 S. Main St., Zionsville, IN 46077
SoHo Cafe and Gallery
620 S. Rangeline Road, Carmel, IN 46032