In 2010, Baby Buggy launched its Fatherhood Initiative to support fathers who are struggling to play a greater role in the lives of their children. Since that time, we have donated over 160,000 items to fatherhood participants in NYC and LA. Each month, we are going to feature some of the dads who have played a part in making this program happen. This month, it’s Baby Buggy’s own Office Manager, Rick Justiniano. Here is his interview with Baby Buggy’s Executive Director Katherine Snider: KS: When you joined Baby Buggy in 2009, there was only one other man on staff. And you were our first dad. You were a pioneer! What was it about Baby Buggy that appealed to you?
RICK: Helping families- I loved the idea. I loved the idea that it wasn’t just a 9 to 5 job. It was somewhere where you were happy to get up in the morning and come to work.
My parents came here from Puerto Rico in the 1960s. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of poverty. I saw the importance of giving back. It was always a struggle for my dad, but he worked hard. He was veryresponsible, he always put us first. My mom was a school teacher at PS 173. She was very dedicated, and she told us stories about kids living in really bad situations. My family volunteered a lot at a soup kitchen during the holidays, and we did food drives.
KS: You have two amazing, beautiful daughters. How old are they now?
RICK; Zoe is 12 and Mya is 14. Since I started work at Baby Buggy, the girls have become more consciousabout giving back. They are more appreciative of what they have.
KS: What is your favorite thing to do with your girls?
RICK: Going to the park on Sundays with my girls- when it’s warm. I love having picnics with them. Sundays in the winter start with a big breakfast. We all sit around reading. I read the Times, they do their homework. And then we all make a big dinner.
KS: Since you joined us, we launched our Fatherhood Initiative. What do you think it most interesting orimportant about this initiative?
RICK: Dads are so important to their kids. More important than many think they are. That status quo is that moms are more important. And the system supports that. I know from my own experience that dads often have to fight to be there for their children.
And I love the way we donate. We don’t just give out stuff. We ask fathers to make a commitment to theprogram and to their kids, and reward them for it. Our donations make it easier for them to be parents.
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