Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Give Back :: Hand to Hold

Once a month, we share a wonderful organization with you that’s dedicated to helping NICU babies and their families – offering you an opportunity to learn more and to give back.

February 2013
Featured Organization – Hand to Hold
by Kelli D. Kelley

MY STORY

One of my life’s most defining moments came on a hot summer day in 2000 when my son, Jackson, was born by emergency c-section at 24 weeks gestation weighing just one pound and eight ounces. I could not have known then, the extent of the impact this experience would have on my life, but I knew nothing would ever be the same.

Jackson spent four months in the NICU. He endured three surgeries before his first birthday and has received extensive occupational, physical and speech therapies for most of his life. His childhood has been filled with illness, doctor visits, expensive medications and challenges with Sensory Integration Disorder and learning delays. (See my full story.)

A little more than two years after Jackson’s birth, his sweet baby sister was born at 34 weeks gestation. Lauren was a healthy weight, but suffered from a blood disorder. Once again, I was forced to leave the hospital without a baby in my arms. Lauren recovered quickly but has experienced challenges associated with auditory and visual processing disorders that are directly related to her preterm birth.

Although my husband and I were surrounded by friends and family that showered us with cards, prayers, gifts and meals after the birth of our children, I truly never felt so alone. I searched for support groups and participated in online discussions, but still there was a void. I struggled to identify doctors and therapists. I searched for information about preemie health and development. I longed for someone to hold my hand and light my way. Thus came the inspiration for founding Hand to Hold.

OUR ORGANIZATION

Hand to Hold is a national 501(c )(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive navigation resources and support programs for parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications.

On Valentine’s Day, Hand to Hold will officially launch our new NICU Resource Library, an online library designed to provide NICUs with resources that help parents understand and cope with their baby’s NICU stay. Each resource is written with a parent’s perspective in mind and available in English and Spanish. An editorial panel of medical professionals, social workers and parents reviewed each piece to ensure the content is accurate, timely, relevant, and easy to understand.

Help for NICU Parents & Hospitals They Support
We offer a national peer-to-peer support program that matches new NICU parents with trained Helping Hands (NICU graduate parents) who share a similar birth story. Hand to Hold also offers a free, monthly e-newsletter for NICU families and supporters and offers many educational materials online. And, we will soon be launching Facebook Chats where an invited expert will answer questions about the topic of the day. At no charge, Hand to Hold is happy to provide our annual print newsletter, Hand Prints, which is available in English or Spanish to your hospital.

HOW YOU CAN GIVE BACK

There are many ways to give back through Hand to Hold and to become involved:

  1. We invite parents to share their personal NICU story in our For the Love of Babies campaign. Those that raise $1,000 or more may gift our new NICU Resource Library to the NICU of their choice in their child’s honor or memory. This campaign will fund more online education for NICU parents and extend our NICU Resource Library. It’s a fabulous way to pay it forward to future families. 
  2. Volunteer as a Helping Hand Mentor and provide one-on-one support to a new NICU parent who shares a similar birth experience through e-mail or by phone. 
  3. Become a Hand to Hold Ambassador in your area and introduce Hand to Hold programs, resources and education to your NICU. Contact Tanya at Tanya@handtohold.org for more information. 
  4. Enter your child’s photo and super hero story in Preemie Power, a fun photo and essay contest, this fall! See the super heroes so far. 
  5. Connect with us on HandtoHold.org, PreemieBabies101 blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.
Thank you, Kelli, for sharing your story with us and your passion to support NICU families during their time of need! Hand to Hold has been instrumental in helping us get things going with Life after NICU – both as mentors and as some of our biggest cheerleaders.  We owe Kelli and her whole team many thanks for their gracious support of our efforts!

Aimee Sprik About Aimee Sprik

Aimee Sprik (IL) is mother to Connor, born unexpectedly early at 26 weeks, in December 2008, due to an infection. Connor, with his parents, survived a complicated 120-day NICU stay, which changed their lives forever. Since bringing her son finally home, she's felt passionately about volunteering her time and resources to supporting fellow NICU parents, both at the hospital where Connor was born, and by co-founding Life after NICU, an online parent support forum now moderated by Hand to Hold. You can follow Aimee on her personal blog, Sprik Space, or send her an email.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Hand to Hold is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive navigation resources and support programs for parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications.  You might remember that we featured them in February as part of our Give Back series. […]

  2. […] Erika is the Program Director and a Family Support Navigator for Hand to Hold. If you would like to know more about Hand to Hold or would like to become a peer mentor for another family who has had a NICU journey visit www.handtohold.org or email Erika@handtohold.org Read more about Hand to Hold as part of our Give Back series here. […]

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