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Inside P4N: 2017 2nd Quarter Update

Hello Friends & Supporters!

The second quarter of 2017 has come and gone in a flash. Check out the major milestones we’ve hit and what we’re planning to do next.

Skip to the bottom of the post to see what we’re working on and how you can help us grow!


  • We started off with 2 new interns:
    • Katie is a Fashion Intern from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY . She is working on new ways to utilize our old, beat up purse scraps. She has come up with some amazing ideas, but we can’t share them just yet… Stay tuned to see what we create!
    • Jassmeen is our Event Planning Intern from Hunter College, here in NYC. She planned Purses for Nurses’ very first private event, which took place this June. It was a wonderful success, and you can read more about it below! Now she is working on our next public event, planned for mid-August. We will lead a panel discussion addressing the emerging trends in global healthcare. Keep an eye out for your invite!
  • Melissa attended a Sustainability Conference at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology)and had the pleasure of meeting @ZeroWasteDaniel, a Brooklyn Fashion designer with a truly zero-waste design process, who recently opened Package Free Shop! She also spoke with other notable FIT alumni and learned about the sustainability efforts happening across all kinds of companies.
  • Purses for Nurses surpassed 500 Instagram Followers, and continues to grow!
  • Melissa & Sisi attended an event by the Female Founders fund where we met the Founders of Rockets of Awesome, Zola, and Eloquii
  • Each of our board members finished the search for a personal mentor and began nurturing those new relationships.
  • We had a booth in the vendor fair at a local screening of Before the Flood.
Jassmeen & Katie, our Spring Interns


  • Melissa participated alongside Donna Karan (yes, as in DKNY!) and Kay Unger, in a critique of hospital gowns created by the students of Parson’s Design school and sponsored by Care & Wear.
  • We had a beautiful Spring photoshoot in Central Park, courtesy of Haley’s Portraits to show off some of our favorite new additions.
  • We made our first bulk sale of purses, turning over more inventory in one sale than ever before – over 400 purses!
  • We had a record month for incoming purse donations – 160 total! As well as our biggest donation to date, 104 purses(!) from Emilie Gustavsen and her daughters in Montclair, NJ
  • We raised $1040 at our Talbot’s Shopping Fundraiser – the most ever raised at a Purses for Nurses event!


  • We attended our second annual Donate NYC Conference. And this time, our intern Katie came along!
  • Purses for Nurses hosted a private brainstorming session (photos below), with carefully chosen participants to help us solve some of the internal obstacles we face as a donations-based organization. It was a huge success!
  • We enhanced our connections with multiple businesses and organizations, including Salvation Army, Care + Wear, Junk Luggers, and more.
    Changemakers, getting creative with purse scraps

    Our Changemaker Posse at P4N’s June Brainstorming Event


Where we need you:

  • Nurses! We need 2 nurses willing to travel abroad for free (tough sell, I know) in March or April of 2018. Your trip will be fully funded if you commit to a small project with us! Apply here.
  • Volunteers! We always need help preparing boxes for shipments and processing purses. If you love handbags, this is the opportunity for you! Times are super flexible and I’ll provide lunch and/or breakfast & coffee!
  • Publicity! Help us spread the word about events, or consider inviting us to one of yours. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else you like!
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April Recap: The Case for Vaccinations

As an ode to World Immunization Week, Purses for Nurses would like to look at the importance of vaccinations and to address the concerns that are circulating around vaccinations. But before looking at their importance, we must first come to an understanding of what vaccines are. Any bacterium or virus that causes an illness produces antigens and these antigens are the key to vaccines (Jubinville, 2015). Antigens of the virus or bacterium are placed into these vaccines and they are either injected, orally ingested, or inhaled through the nose to expose the human immune system to these viral/bacterial antigens to induce an immune response. Once this occurs, the body can produce antibodies that are specific to the antigens. The immune system will then put to memory the ability to produce these types of antibodies so when the full-blown virus or bacterium infects the body, it will be ready to fight it off.

Autism And Vaccinations

Up until right about the end of the 20th century, public opinion over vaccinations was overwhelmingly positive; vaccinations were thought to be the gateway to ending infectious diseases. Fast forward to the late 1900s and you have laymen trying to debunk the efficacy of vaccines and screaming from rooftops that the vaccinations pose a greater health risk to an individual than the actual disease they are trying to be protected from. But why did conventional wisdom shift so dramatically?

One cannot begin to speak about the anti-vaccine movement without mentioning the name Andrew Wakefield so let us address the elephant in the room. In 1998, Wakefield published a publication that implied that vaccines, particularly the MMR vaccine, increased the risk of autism in children (Wakefield, et al. 1998). There were many things quintessentially wrong with Wakefield’s study. First and foremost, it was a study composed of only twelve participants, and among those twelve, only nine showed symptoms of autism. What is worse is the fact that if you were to go to the (now retracted) paper and observe the data yourself, the data classifies one child as “autism?”. Yes, that is “autism” with a question mark. Other than the fact that Wakefield tried to pass data with such a small sample size as showing something that is statistically significant, he also was in an obvious conflict of interest which should have raised some red flags. Wakefield had filed a patent for a vaccine that would compete with the MMR vaccine so he had a huge stake in trying to prove the inefficacy of the MMR vaccine (Barrett, 2010). As a result of not only the scientific invalidity of Wakefield’s paper but also because of his obvious conflict of interest, the paper has been retracted and his outlandish claims over the association between autism and vaccinations have been proven incorrect. But the damage has been done. How much damage did Wakefield really do? It is estimated that after his paper had been published and after media outlets got a hold of it, immunization rates dropped more than 10% in the UK alone. And the unfortunate part about all this? Even though the man behind it all has had his medical license stripped away and his paper retracted, just the mere thought of the association between autism and vaccinations is out there and it is in the back of the minds of millions of people, especially parents. The damage has not only been done but it appears it has been done seemingly irreversibly.

What Would No Vaccines Look Like?

Let us imagine for a second a paradigm in which we all disregarded science and facts and instead gave into the ludicrous claims that vaccines are extremely detrimental to our health. What would the world without immunization look like? Well, it goes without saying that smallpox would not be eradicated and polio would not be so close to being so itself. But numbers and statistics definitely speak better than words. Without the vaccine, smallpox would still be rampant as it was throughout history into the 1900s. Just in the 20th century alone, 300 million people died around the world. We can use this as a close estimate of the mortality rate in the 21st century. And without the smallpox vaccine, we would still have a disease that is incredibly virulent and has a mortality rate of over 33% (Flight, 2011). Although polio was not nearly as virulent or deadly as smallpox, without the polio vaccine, we would still see many of our acquaintances suffering from its clutches and at its worst, suffering from the isolation and treachery that is the iron lung.

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Controversies, Controversies, and More Controversies  

Because of the concerns over the efficacies of vaccines, there are many controversies that surround vaccinations. One of the biggest controversies is whether the state can have jurisdiction over parents when deciding to vaccinate a child. Children themselves do not have the wherewithal to decide themselves whether they want a vaccination or not. So when parents decide that they either do not believe in vaccines or they think that vaccines will kill their child, they decline the option of getting their child vaccinated. The parents may believe that the child is their child, therefore, can do whatever they would like to do with them, however, the state may intervene when the parents’ decision obviously puts another life at risk, the child’s. Another huge subset of a controversy within this controversy is the idea that by not “believing” in vaccines for whatever reason, they are not only putting their life in danger but the life of their children as well as the greater population. This controversial argument stems from the idea of herd immunity. Herd immunity is the idea that a certain percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to prevent a possible epidemic from breaking out. Each disease has its own unique percentage/herd immunity. By not vaccinating, you are slowly progressing towards not attaining herd immunity and possibly putting those around you at risk. Yet another argument within these sets of arguments is the argument that some individuals do not have the luxury of even getting vaccinated because of conditions that may cause them to be immunocompromised and prevent them from even getting an attenuated/killed form of a virus/bacterium. Therefore, by not vaccinating one’s self, you are especially putting these immunocompromised individuals at a huge risk of contracting a disease that may be fatal to them but nothing more than an inconvenience for you like the yearly flu.

Moving Forward

One of the biggest problems that almost cannot be addressed is the fact that some people are just not exposed to the diseases anymore. As recently as the mid 1900s, people feared diseases because they were able to see the symptoms that manifested as a result. People saw polio and what it did to children; the iron lungs that children would be forced to stay in for the rest of their lives just to survive (Oshinsky, 2005). People saw the measles as a rite of childhood and saw people catching it left and right and dying (Parker, 2015).  But now that these are very minimal concerns of developed countries, specifically the US, people have just forgotten what these diseases and their deleterious effects on humans. They do not remember how we even got to a point of ignorance, how we now have the luxury of not knowing these diseases first hand. They do not realize that vaccines are exactly how we got to a point where diseases are not rampant throughout society.

The anti-vaccination movement has become nothing short of a witch hunt. Even among all the immense success and impressive track record that vaccines have, some individuals just cannot accept the fact that vaccines are just not the cause of all their health problems. To be able to look at the eradication of smallpox, the close extinction of polio and all the lives that have been saved in between and yet still believe vaccines are what causes autism and even death is nothing short of ignorant and childish.

However, all is not lost. We are far from the point of no return. What is especially important in this controversy over immunizations is awareness. People must be properly informed and properly educated in the immense benefits of vaccinations. How can this be done? Fortunately, the proceeds that come from selling refurbished bags allows Purses for Nurses to send trained professionals all throughout the globe to propagate informed, trustworthy information about the benefits of vaccines and debunk outlandish, incomplete rumors. Making people aware of the true benefits of vaccinating not only one’s self but their kids can begin a healthy trend of looking at vaccines for what they are, medical marvels, rather than death traps. Not only can the proceeds go to helping trained professionals educate those who lack education around the world, but it can go to helping them go and vaccinate individuals in not only rural but also impoverished nations. It is very well possible that vaccines can just be lacking in certain parts of the world and they do not have the luxury of even deciding whether they want the vaccine, they just cannot get it. In areas such as these, trained professionals can be sent to help administer vaccinations so that more and more individuals can be safe from disease. With donations and purchases of refurbished purses from the Purses for Nurses team, one can sufficiently help P4N expedite the process of increasing vaccine awareness and increasing the immunization of people all around the world.

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Inside P4N: 2017 1st Quarter Update

Hello Friends!

Here is your quarterly look inside our operations & activities.

We hope you take joy in celebrating these big and small milestones with us 🙂

Skip to the bottom of the post to see what we’re working on and how you can help us grow!


  • Our New Year started off with a bang! We brought on 3 Spring Semester interns and retained connections with multiple others from last year.
  • We kicked off fundraising efforts with a DIY event at sweetgreen and made some beautiful jewelry out of purse parts.
  • We attended a grant proposal writing seminar at The Foundation Center and began the process of grant seeking.


  • We cancelled our old website subscription and moved all of our website sales to Woo Commerce (this was an enormous task, handled beautifully by our interns & help from Mike at SPI Group!)
  • We had a chilly photoshoot in Central Park to show off our best Winter bags
  • We sold our most expensive purse to date, a beautiful Burberry handbag!


Where we need you:

  • Photographers! Anyone interested and willing to help us out with some product photography to make our website even more beautiful.
  • Nurses! We need 2 nurses willing to travel abroad for free at the end of 2017 and/or beginning of 2018. Your trip will be fully funded if you commit to a small project with us!Apply here.
  • Volunteers! We always need help preparing boxes for shipments and processing purses. If you love handbags, this is the opportunity for you! Times are super flexible and I’ll provide lunch and/or breakfast & coffee!
  • Publicity! Help us spread the word about events, or consider inviting us to one of yours. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else you like!
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March Recap: Save Your Vision Month

Each year, the American Optometric Association (AOA) designates March as “Save Your Vision” month. It serves to inform people about ways they can take care of their vision and encourage them to go for regular eye exams. This year, the association is focusing on the dangers blue light has on our vision. Blue light is the type of light digital screens produce. According to the AOA, the average American spends seven hours a day on electronic devices and 88 percent know that those devices have negative effects on their vision.

Blue light is linked to sleeping disorders, neck and shoulder pains, headaches, dry eyes, eyestrain, and blurred vision. The AOA is prompting people to make use of the “20-20-20 Rule.” The rule suggests that after 20 minutes of screen time, to take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. This is meant to protect one’s eyes from the negative effects of blue light.

A study done by the National Eye Institute in 2009 found that nearsightedness among Americans has increased more than 66 percent in the past 30 years. The growth of digital device use is one reason that can explain this spike in vision problems. That’s why tips to keep our vision healthy, like the “20-20-20 Rule”  and others, are important now that we face new strains to our eyesight.

The public education of vision health in other parts of the world is facing tougher challenges. China is home to significant vision health problems. According to the World Health Organization, China makes up 18 percent of the world’s blind. China’s vision problem is prevalent in its young and elderly populations. There are various vision health problems of which are preventable, treatable and can benefit from aid provided by outside assistance.

90 percent of China’s urban youth have been diagnosed with myopia, or nearsightedness, three times the rate of American children. Between 10 to 20 percent of those children diagnosed with myopia are at risk of developing high myopia. High myopia is largely untreatable and can lead to blindness. Many experts, including Dr. He Mingguang, a Chinese ophthalmologist and leading myopia researcher, cite the rigorous schooling system as a leading cause for the high rate of children with the condition. The connection between the vision crisis and school has resulted in the China’s Ministry of Education in providing Braille or electronic versions of the China’s national college entrance exams to accommodate the high magnitude of those visually impaired.  

Due to the highly competitive society, the preparation for college life is brutal and begins at an early age. Children spend a lot of time indoors looking down at books and at their heavy homework loads. These habits can have negative effects on a person’s vision and cause myopia. The lack of exposure to sunlight is a link that many researchers found as a reason behind to this epidemic. Sunlight may stimulate the release of dopamine from the retina which will, in turn, prevent the elongation of the eye, what causes myopia.

There is also a high number of children diagnosed with myopia without proper corrective eyewear. Some Chinese are misinformed about glasses. Some don’t trust them and believe that they will worsen their children’s myopia. Doctors in the country constantly put out and work on studies to educate others on the importance and usefulness of glasses to dispel these falsehoods.

Another leading vision crisis China faces is the high number of cataract cases. Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in China. On average, 400,000 people each year are left blind because of untreated cases. Cataract can be easily treated but 80 percent of the country’s blind live in rural areas. Even though the country has one of the world’s fastest growing economy, many of those poorer individuals living in the remote countryside are unable to access and afford cataract surgery.

Of the 2,400 county hospitals throughout the country, 45 percent do not have trained cataract surgeons, according to the World Health Organization. In some regions, this percentage is even higher, often reaching 75 percent. Preventable blindness is the biggest feat China is faces. China estimates that if nothing changes, the number of blind people will double to 5 million by the year 2020.

Fixing the lack of trained eye care practitioners seems to be the solution to preventable blindness and proper vision care for all the people of China. Volunteer efforts have helped to combat this issue. The World Health Association and the Chinese Ministry of Health work with a network of 12 non-governmental development organizations (NGDOs), dedicated to providing vision health treatment to those in remote areas.  

This project by the network is called Vision 2020. The project’s goal is to eliminate preventable blindness in China by 2020. They work by training surgeons inadequate eye surgery practices, supporting local clinical staff and health workers in providing the best vision care to those who need it most. The NGDOs also educate communities regarding vision health to help raise awareness of proper vision care.

Educating yourself with proper information about ways to take care of your vision is just the first step anyone can take to ensure a healthy eyesight. Vision care is an important part of leading an overall healthy life. One way to begin your path is to set up an eye exam with your optometrist to make sure your eyes healthy and always look out for more vision tips at the American Optometric Association here.

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March Recap: International Women’s Day

March 8th is celebrated all over the world as International Women’s Day. I think it is interesting that we feel the need to dedicate one specific day to applaud women. Isn’t this something that should be done every day, 365 days a year? I believe in the beauty and strength of women. The innate spirit of women helps them through a diverse range of situations and conditions. It also enables women all over the world to fulfill different roles, often more than one at a time.

Daughter, Sister, Friend, Wife, Mother – these are just some of the relationships that women juggle. At the same time, they also juggle professional or corporate roles, ranging from entrepreneurs to CEOs. The women who choose to dedicate their lives to their homes and families become homemakers. While it sounds like the easier option, being a homemaker is as challenging as it is rewarding. There are women who fulfill all three kinds of roles at the same time; they balance their relationships, work, and home lives–and they do it all with a smile on their face.

This was not always the case. While the relationships remain the same, there has been a slow but definite revolution on the work front. It was once unthinkable for women to do any “work” or “business”. They were expected to stay at home, manage the household, and raise the children. Their only source of money was usually fathers and then husbands who gave them pin money. The women who did show interests outside of this sphere were considered odd.

Fortunately now, the perception of women has changed, from stay-at-home wives to CEOs, entrepreneurs, activists, writers, artists, and more. Today women are doing absolutely amazing things in various parts of the world. Some women in rural India are spearheading development and change in their corner of the world. Women in urban cities with more progressive cultures are working in small, mid-level, and executive positions in a multitude of companies. Women everywhere are becoming entrepreneurs and managing successful businesses, sometimes from the convenience of their own homes.

It is fascinating and heartening to see these changes. However, there are iconic ladies who have suffered immensely and faced huge odds and pressures to allow future generations the rights that they have. These include the suffrage movement, the fight to ban practices like sati and purdah, the struggle for women’s rights to receive education and attend universities, etc. These are the big moments. There are countless smaller ones like these that have been like stones thrown into a pond. The ripples from these actions are still spreading and women hope to achieve even loftier heights.

Purses For Nurses is a fantastic example of this wave of freedom for women. Founded by Melissa Zuk, a talented and wonderful woman, this organization aims to provide relief and nursing services all over the world. Purses For Nurses has a strong advocacy tenet. A woman started this group, it has a strong presence of women in its team, and its work is aimed at helping women all over the world.

There are several women all over the world who have beautiful and inspiring stories to share. Let’s take the time to stop and listen to them, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.


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The New Fashion at NYFW – Sustainability

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is a week-long fashion extravaganza held every spring (February) and Fall (September) with designers from all over the world infiltrating New York City to display their collections. One of the biggest criticisms the fashion industry has been facing is the industry’s contribution to pollution and waste. According to a Greenpeace article in 2016, about 400 billion square meters of textiles are produced every year. Out of these 60 billion square meters are unused and left over as scraps in the cutting room. This waste is not usually recycled or used in any way. At the same time, vast quantities of water and chemicals are used for producing, dyeing and cleaning fashion items. All of this contributes to overall ecological pollution.

However, there is a growing trend among designers, big icons and upcoming or newly minted gods of fashion, to promote sustainability. Indie designers are incorporating sustainability in their design and production process, coming up with avant-garde and truly innovative pieces. Some of these designers, Rag & Bone, Edun, Organic by John Patrick, Kate Spade, NY, Jill Adams, Nicholas K, Ohlin/D, Mara Hoffman, Monzlapur, Elena Rudenko, Ryan Roche, Collina Strada, Minan Wong, Eileen Fisher, NOT by Jenny Lai also featured in the Spring 2017 NYFW between 9th and 16th February this year.

Some of the measures adopted by these (and other) fashion professionals are linked to the production process. Others look to change the way the industry and the customers perceive and use clothes. Designers like Mara Hoffman and Ryan Roche are implementing one of the best practices. They aim to improve the working conditions of the thousands of workers and craftsmen engaged in producing fashion items. This includes banishing child labor, making factories and warehouses safer and cleaner by implementing health and safety standards and providing workers with a decent wage and a chance to learn various life skills. This is particularly important in high-production centers in developing countries like Africa and India.

Another focus of labels, like Ohlin/D and Monzlapur, is to focus on the well-being of the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, plastic and other non-biodegradable wastes in clothes and accessories, ensuring animal welfare, using more efficient water practices, implementing technical ecological standards, etc. This also includes minimizing production waste as part of the creation process. One of the popular ways of doing all of this is to recycle materials, like nylon, neoprene and other plastics, and/or to upcycle various garments. Some designers have made truly stunning pieces out of recycled materials and by re-using the fabrics from other existing garments. There is also a strong advocacy of upcycling fashion items into multi-purpose objects. Some of these have been around for a long time, like using patches from various clothes to make quilts and rugs. You can find more innovative do-it-yourself (DIY) projects on Pinterest.

Another popular trend, and a method of reducing pollution right from the beginning is to use organic materials and fabrics. Organic cotton, vegetable-dyed leather, Tencel (made from organic regenerated fibers), naturally processed wool, recycled cotton, and silks, are some options. This reduces the waste element not in quantity but in quality. The industry has also started to create garments that are physically durable as well as fashionably relevant for longer. The theory is that if a garment has a longer period of wear there will be less cause to purchase new pieces and discard old items.

Another trend that has become admired in recent years is the concept of renting and monetizing your closet. In a fashion capital like New York, the concept of renting items rather than buying them is incredibly popular. It allows people to have a never-ending closet without having to invest lots of money or worrying about storage. Another popular practice is the concept of reselling fashion items to people willing to use second (or third) handpieces. This is true for clothes, shoes, as well as bags. This is where organizations like Purses For Nurses come in. Restoring donated purses for sale is part of sustainable fashion. Purses For Nurses takes it a step further by using the proceeds from the sale to help provide medical care and educational services to countries in need all over the globe.

Looking good is important, but it is better to do some good while looking fabulous. So if you have any old purses you don’t use, please reach out to us. Also, check out our website to see the purses available for sale right now; your next great bag might also be a way for you to show your support for sustainable fashion.


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Mobile Clinics: Providing Healthcare To Those Who Need It Most

Unfortunately, sustainable healthcare for all continues to look far from reach. Despite medical advancements, there are still various barriers in the way for many to benefit from them. Health care affordability is something that many countries continue working to perfect. Numerous countries’ still face the strife of making it possible for all their citizens to afford healthcare.

Another recurring problem preventing many from seeking medical care is accessibility. The most advanced medical care available is rendered useless to many who aren’t able to easily access it. Not knowing or being able to reach their nearest health care location is just one of the many problems billions of people abroad face.

In many developing countries, a combination of both these problems are reasons individuals can’t benefit from modern medical treatment. Most people living in developing countries rely on volunteer programs from various health organizations for their medical needs. One way that volunteers are able to reach those in need is through mobile clinics.

All around the world, mobile clinics are an essential part of medical assistance for uninsured patients who can’t get medical services anywhere else. Mobile clinics serve patients’ health needs by bringing the doctor’s office to them. Millions of people who live in remote areas of the world, that are unable to travel to their nearest health facility, heavily depend on mobile clinics.

Types of mobile clinics can vary from literal clinics on wheels that travel through different areas, to makeshift clinical facilities. The types and frequency of medical services provided can also vary depending on a location’s most prominent needs but generally, they provide basic medical care.

Since a lot of these mobile clinics exist through the work of nonprofit health programs, volunteers are an essential part of their operation. Many join local doctors and clinics to provide the best medical services possible to local residents. An organization that runs on this model is MEDLIFE.

MEDLIFE is a non-profit organization that works with volunteer students around the country to provide healthcare access via mobile clinics. Besides working to set up mobile clinics, MEDLIFE focuses on providing resources to that will benefit people’s overall health.

MEDLIFE strives to achieve this by also focusing on education and community development issues. MEDLIFE develop various projects that aim to improve day-to-day life in the three countries they currently operate in which are Ecuador, Tanzania, and Peru.

Their on-site mobile clinics offer various basic medical services like dental, OB/GYN and pharmacy stations. But an approach that sets MEDLIFE apart from other volunteer organizations is MEDLIFE’s focus on long-term medical care. They build lasting relations with individuals who are in need for more in-depth services and follow-ups.

“Our goal with the mobile clinics is to identify and prevent issues, and provide long-term medical assistance,” says Sarah Margolis, one of MEDLIFE’s team leads within volunteer affairs.

Volunteer tourism, or “voluntourism,” can often do more bad than good. Some organizations just make one-time visits or do not follow up in the communities they serve. Many people are still left untreated for various illnesses.

Depending on the country, community, and needs, Margolis estimates that anything between 30 to 100 patients a day is not unusual for mobile clinics. Those visiting them are the people who are only able to receive medical attention because of volunteer-run mobile clinics. MEDLIFE wants to ensure that those under their treatment can get the continued help they need.

Services provided at their mobile clinic are just the first steps MEDLIFE volunteers take to ensure no patient with a long term illness is left untreated. Whereas their mobile clinics and volunteers go to communities periodically, local community health care professionals and workers oversee the unfinished work of the MEDLIFE volunteers.

“Some communities we visit several times a year,” says Margolis. “But follow-up care programs are separate. Full-time medical professionals visit as often as the patient requires. They could visit once a week or once a month depending on the patient’s needs.”

MEDLIFE hopes to expand their services to other parts of the world in the near future. The organization is currently beginning work in Nicaragua. Although there are no concrete plans as of yet, New Delhi, India and other parts of Africa are where they also hope to reach.

MEDLIFE’s vision of bringing healthcare to those who need it most only begins with their mobile clinics. MEDLIFE works with countless volunteers; some with medical backgrounds and others from completely different fields, but with the same passion for helping.

“The idea is we are working with the future leaders of the movement,” says Margolis.

The continuous work of large groups of international students through MEDLIFE’s mobile clinics and other sustainability projects are the start of the movement the organization is hoping to create. That movement being a better way of living for all, beginning with healthy lives.


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What to Know About Birth Defects Prevention Month

Babies are a source of celebration and joy. Thus, all cultures in every country have rituals and celebrations to herald this happy occasion; however, sometimes health issues with the child dampens the happiness. January is Prevention of Birth Defects Month. This helps spread awareness and information, reducing the risks of babies being born with defects and medical problems.

The ten most common birth defects in the U.S. according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are:

Down syndrome
Cleft lip (with or without cleft palate)
Cleft palate without cleft lip Atrioventricular septal defect (hole in the heart)
Absence of malformation of the rectum and/or large intestine
Gastroschisis (hole in the abdominal wall)
Tetralogy of Fallot (a combination of heart defects)
Spina bifida without anencephaly (problems with the spine)
Reduction deformity, upper limbs
Reversal of the heart’s two main arteries

While doctors don’t know all the causes of all birth defects, there are measures that can be taken before and during pregnancy to reduce the chance of abnormalities in the fetus. While some are about nutrition and some are about habits and good healthcare–all are preventative in nature. The top three preventative measures are as follows:

1. Regular check-ups and visits to the doctor – It is important for the mother to take care of herself even before the pregnancy. Also, ensuring that everything is OK and getting the medical all-clear is a vital step for any prospective parents. Consequently, regular visits ensure that the pregnancy is progressing as it should.

2. Folic acid or Folate intake – Folic acid is a B Vitamin that is crucial for the healthy development of the baby. It seems like adequate levels of folic acid help prevent neural tube defects and spinal defects. The recommended dose is about 400mcg daily for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Folic acid can be ingested naturally in food like beans and asparagus, or as separate capsules as well.

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3. Stop activities like alcohol consumption, smoking, drug use, etc. – All these activities and others like it cause harm to the baby and can cause numerous problems. Stunted growth, physical abnormalities, and mental regression are especially relevant. Hence, women who are trying to become pregnant, are pregnant and who have recently given birth are strongly advised to refrain from these activities to protect their child.

There are various other measures, like genome mapping, getting a sonography, taking adequate exercise, ensuring proper hormonal balance and pH levels and so on. So pass the word along to ensure that your friends and relatives are aware of these issues and take adequate protection and preventative actions.

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Handwashing: An Effective, Inexpensive Life Saver


Handwashing with soap is an effective, inexpensive way to prevent health complications or death. Those who do not wash their hands thoroughly with soap are vulnerable and at greater risk of catching infectious diseases. Infectious diseases such as influenza, pneumonia and clostridium difficult are but a few diseases that those who do not wash their hands with soap are at risk of contracting. It is also important to understand that these diseases are no laughing matter; globally, 1.7 million children alone die every year from diarrhea and pneumonia, two health complications that can be prevented by handwashing with soap. Diarrhea is also globally responsible for children missing a cumulative 272 million school days every year. Handwashing with soap is important because it is an extremely simple way to prevent life-threatening diseases. Although handwashing may seem mundane and obvious to some, to others, it is not because its importance is either not prominently taught in other countries or people in impoverished nations may have never had the opportunity to learn properly. Whatever the case may be, it is important to educate those who are unaware of the benefits of handwashing.

Peru is an example of a country in which educational assistance in the benefits of handwashing was essential. As early as in the year 2000, Peru had been experiencing a huge issue with hand washing. At the time, 15% of children had experienced diarrhea and as of 2004, only 14% of women washed their hands with soap after using the toilet and only 6% of mothers did so before cooking. This issue reflects the issue in a lot of impoverished nations where lack of knowledge of how crucial hand washing is and the benefits of washing one’s hands with soap is to our health. The magnitude of the issue is also perpetuated by the fact that the populations that are especially affected are vulnerable populations, children, and mothers. Children’s immune system are not as developed as adults so they cannot fight off diseases very well therefore, they are more susceptible to contracting and suffering from diseases. Educating mothers, especially pregnant mothers, is extremely crucial because they are not only a vulnerable population, however, they may act as agents of diseases as well. Why? Because mothers are in constant contact with their children. For example, if mothers cook without washing their hands with soap then the pathogens on their hands may contaminate the food.

However, what must be taken into consideration is the fact that if mothers make contaminated food, not only are they putting themselves at risk to contract a disease, they are also putting their children at risk. This is because children have no other option than to eat the food their mothers cook for them. Therefore, even if children may be aware of washing their hands with soap and they do so, they may be subjected to such pathogens because of their mothers. This brings light to another important reason as to why handwashing with soap is an extremely important matter; because it not only prevents one’s self from contracting a disease, but it is vital in preventing the spread of diseases to other people.

The efforts of P4N can immensely benefit those in impoverished, underprivileged nations because the proceeds from the purses sold through P4N go to sending nurses all around the world. P4N can send nurses to nations like Peru and educate kids about hand washing and its benefits. And with a growing water crisis around the world, it is crucial, now more than ever, to educate people on effective hand washing methods that do not wastefully utilize water. According to a study conducted in 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya, that observed the frequency at which students washed their hands, it was observed that schools that used waterless hand sanitizers to wash their hands did so more than schools that had soap handwashing implemented. In fact, the schools that had more waterless hand sanitizers and therefore, had a greater incidence of hand washing, were 23% less likely to observe rhinorrhea, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms.

Although hand washing may be seemingly simple, it is important to follow certain steps to thoroughly get rid of germs and pathogens.

Using Soap:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are useful when soap and water are not available. In most cases, antibacterial soap is not necessary for safe, effective hand hygiene.
  • Remove any hand or arm jewelry you may be wearing and wet your hands with warm water. Add regular soap and rub your hands together, ensuring you have lathered all surfaces for at least 15 seconds, or the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
  • Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Rinse your hands well under warm running water, using a rubbing motion.
  • Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper towel or a clean towel. Drying them vigorously can damage the skin.
  • Turn off the tap using the paper towel so that you do not re-contaminate your hands. When using a public bathroom, use the same paper towel to open the door when you leave.
  • If skin dryness is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion. (Health Canada)
via World Health Organization
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Inside P4N: 2016 In Review

Hello friends of Purses for Nurses and Welcome to 2017!

There’s no question: 2016 was a whirlwind of a year, and many are happy to see it go. Political turmoil, from Standing Rock to protests against our President Elect; Surprises in health care, from rising EpiPen costs to the controversy over Obamacare; and international tensions, from the civil war in Syria to Brexit. Not to mention, all of the incredible people who made a date with the Grimm Reaper.

So the last 365 is behind us, and we’re taking a moment to reflect on Purses for Nurses’ major wins as well as a few of the challenges we faced. Take a walk down memory lane with us!

-A record breaking month for most purse donations received ever!

-We lose one board member, but gain 2 more!
-Project: Organize Our Inventory commences! Every single purse gets tagged with an SKU and we begin tracking all donations & sales in Quickbooks

-Melissa travels to Iquitos, Peru and the Amazon Jungle to secure our first international partnership with People of Peru Project.
-Melissa attends the Future of Sustainable Fashion event by Be Social Change

-Purses for Nurses becomes a Corporation in New York State
-Melissa travels to Columbus, Ohio for a purse sales event
-Melissa & Sisi Attend Amazing Perspective‘s Build Your Brand Workshop with Dr. Talaya Waller, Brendan Doherty and Karl Hudson, helping to solidify our target audience

-3 Summer interns start: Danielle, Leslie, & Sari
-Purses for Nurses files taxes for the first time!

-Accounting Intern, Meriem starts. She & Andres work tirelessly for several months to get the P4N financials well organized!
-Intern Nadira starts
-We host our first team gathering!

-Purses for Nurses becomes a tax-exempt Nonprofit 501(c)3 !!!
-We have our first official board meeting!
-We join forces with Nothing Forgotten as a donation partner

-Our website gets a makeover thanks to The SPI Group!
-Tradesy Store launches!
-We begin working on a 25+ page detailed business plan

-DonateNYC becomes an official partner, helping to expand our donor reach & enhance our environmental impact tracking.
-2 new interns start for Fall: Mary Kate & Tess
-Melissa gets interviewed by Amazing Perspective

-A record breaking month for most sales and most revenue from purses ever!
-Purses for Nurses participates in a community yard sale with Girls2Women .
-We attend our first Director’s Meeting as a DonateNYC Partner.
-We lease co-working space for the first time at the Centre for Social Innovation

-Photoshoots galore! Our image style improves and Instagram following nearly doubles thanks to Tess and Haley!


-Melissa attends a panel discussion at Joel Braverman High School in Flatbush, leading a Q&A on nonprofit career options with students
-We host our first Community Yoga Fundraiser

We couldn’t have done any of these amazing things without the support of each and every one of you! We hope you will stay tuned in 2017 for some of the even more exciting things we have planned.

May your 2017 be full of good health and beautiful handbags!