Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doing good

Want to help me help someone else? I am totally stealing this idea from Pseudostoops. Last years, she solicited help in her charitable donations around the holidays. I recently received some requests from a few of the charities that I helped in the past. I try to give small donations to different charities throughout the year.

Well, for some reason, they all sent out requests at the same time and I am inundated! I can't donate THAT much money, especially with money being somewhat tight. I have decided to make a $25 donation to one of these charities. I have whittled it down to my top contenders and want your opinion on who should be the lucky winner. Please check out the worthy charities and leave a comment with your choice.

If I receive 25 comments, I will then send a check for $50 to the top vote-getter. I know it isn't a lot of money, but even a little bit can help! :o)
In no particular order, here are the charities:
International Rescue Committee:
From their website: "We are the International Rescue Committee – a critical global network of first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, community leaders, activists, and volunteers. Working together, we provide access to safety, sanctuary, and sustainable change for millions of people whose lives have been shattered by violence and oppression.
Our mission
Founded in 1933, the IRC is a global leader in emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection of human rights, post-conflict development, resettlement services and advocacy for those uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression.
Learn more about what we do>
Our work
The IRC is on the ground in 42 countries, providing emergency relief, relocating refugees, and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster. Through 24 regional offices in cities across the United States, we help refugees resettle in the U.S. and become self-sufficient."

Doctors Without Borders
From their website: "Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971.

Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. MSF reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols."

The Smile Train
From their website: "Unlike many charities that do many different things, The Smile Train is focused on solving a single problem: cleft lip and palate.
Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain and heartache.
The good news is every single child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes.
This is our mission:
-To provide free cleft surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries.
-To provide free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals.
Until there are no more children who need help and we have completely
eradicated the problem of clefts."
**The Smile Train is matching all donations, so it would double.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
From their website: "St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly. St. Jude researchers are published and cited more often in high impact publications than any other private pediatric oncology research institution in America. St. Jude is a place where many doctors send some of their sickest patients and toughest cases. A place where cutting-edge research and revolutionary discoveries happen every day. We've built America's second-largest health-care charity so the science never stops.
All patients accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family's ability to pay."

Ronald McDonald House (Cincinnati)
From their website: "Vision Statement: To offer all the comforts of home to every family with a hospitalized child.
Mission Statement: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati provides a supportive "home away from home" for families and their children receiving medical treatment at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, regardless of their ability to pay. Ronald McDonald House Charities also awards grants to local not-for-profit organizations serving children through a portion of donations from McDonald's customers and Global Ronald McDonald House Charities' matching funds."

Southern Poverty Law Center
From their website: "The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. Today, SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.
Located in Montgomery, Alabama – the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement – the Southern Poverty Law Center was founded by Morris Dees and Joe Levin, two local lawyers who shared a commitment to racial equality. Its first president was civil rights activist Julian Bond.
Throughout its history, SPLC has worked to make the nation's Constitutional ideals a reality. The SPLC legal department fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society's most vulnerable members, handling innovative cases that few lawyers are willing to take. Over three decades, it has achieved significant legal victories, including landmark Supreme Court decisions and crushing jury verdicts against hate groups.
In 1981, the Southern Poverty Law Center began investigating hate activity in response to a resurgence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Today the SPLC Intelligence Project monitors hate groups and tracks extremist activity throughout the U.S. It provides comprehensive updates to law enforcement, the media and the public through its quarterly magazine, Intelligence Report. Staff members regularly conduct training sessions for police, schools, and civil rights and community groups, and they often serve as experts at hearings and conferences."

Personal notes: I have given to all of these charities before, except for Doctors without Borders. The Ronald McDonald house is something I never would have thought of before my (then) 3 week-old baby was hospitalized for 2-3 days. I can only imagine how important that house is for families of children undergoing cancer treatment. Lastly, the SPLC holds a special place in my heart because Morris Dees is one of my role models. In light of what recently happened at the Holocaust Museum, the work of the SPLC is vitally important.

So, what do you think? Leave a comment--I will write the check on July 10th!
Edited: Due to Swistle's help, I have finally received some comments. I will extend this poll until July 13th!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bite the bullet

Today I made a phone call to nail down some information that I have needed for a while. Needless to say, I am not pleased with the information that I received. My oldest, Allison, has a speech delay. We first had her evaluated at the tender age of 15 months, because it seemed as if we were regressing. We heard "mama" and "dada", and then those slowly disappeared. She would point and say "uh" to make her wishes known. No matter how much we tried to encourage her, we got nowhere. So, the pathologist suggested therapy. We wondered how the heck that was going to work with an 18 month old (several months had passed with us on the waiting list).

We went, we tried, we thought it was lame. No offense to speech pathologists out there, but it was the same stuff I was doing at home. Plus, she freaked out for the first ten minutes of each session even with me in the room. We originally received a denial from our insurance, which meant we were looking at $150 a session. Guess how long a session is? 50 minutes or so. Outrageous! And to go once a week for who knows how long??? Children's sent the paperwork in, and the insurance company actually covered it, and we only paid our $30 copay for the 3 sessions we went to. But even $30 a week seemed like a lot for one hour of "therapy", that was similar to the activities I did with Ally.

We evaluated our options, and Ally being an only child at that point, we thought that social interaction would prove helpful. We enrolled Ally in a local daycare for 2 mornings a week, so that she could see, play with and hear other kids. It took a while to hear any differences, but I'm sure that the socialization helped immensely. Over the past few years, her speech has taken off, with huge gains. However, there are still major problems. We wound up having her evaluated last spring. Again, therapy was recommended because she tested well below her age range. I was 5 months pregnant or so, and knew that whenever the spot would become available, I would have a newborn to tote as well.

We pursued the whole insurance thing AGAIN, to be told, AGAIN, that it was denied. Here is the kicker: our insurance will only cover speech therapy if it something that you had and then lost. For instance, if I had an accident or stroke, then it would cover rehabilitative speech therapy for me. But it will NOT cover my child to get the (IMO) necessary help. We pulled out Mike's policy and began to examine it thoroughly. Want to know what our insurance will cover? Abortion. I don't want to get into the Roe v. Wade debate, but it surprises and angers me that the policy covers such a procedure for an office co-pay (and I believe it makes no restrictions on it) while denying my child therapy that could dramatically help her in school. I'm not asking to send her to special "intelligence enhancing" classes or anything else.

But I'm her mom, and I still don't understand all that she says. Strangers understand maybe half of what she says. It is far beyond the normal toddler/preschooler speech issues.

With the birth of Kelly, we never found the time to take Ally for therapy. Once things settled down, I called to schedule. Big surprise--it had been a year, so we had to have her evaluated for a third time. Yet another big surprise--she still needed therapy, even though she is so much better than she was before. In fact, she scored above average in intelligence; but well below in actual articulation. The report says she has a "severe articulation disorder".

But once again, insurance has denied it. The therapist had mentioned a grant that Children's had received, to help in situations like ours. When I called to see where we were on the waiting list, I was informed that money was used immediately and the therapist should never have mentioned it. I was pretty upset, because we were really hopeful that could help with the cost. I don't know if we are looking at 5, 10 or more sessions at today's price of $170-180 a session. With Mike having to take a pay cut and the added expense of another child, it is going to be a huge hit to our budget. Don't get me wrong, we will do whatever we need to for her well-being and education. But I think that insurance should cover at least part of it. We are calling today to pay and schedule her therapy. I just hope it works!