Maribel Farish and Her Son Daniel

Hand to Hold is created by parents and for parents. Every one of our staff and board members has had their lives touched by either prematurity or a NICU stay – or both. So when we started Hand to Hold we didn’t just want to build a non-profit – we wanted to build a community.

Not every one will need every service we offer. But we want you to know that these resources are here for you if you do. Mostly we want you to know that you are not alone.

In this Helping Hand Highlight, Mom Maribel Farish shares the programs that have worked for her and the many ways Hand to Hold has touched her and her family’s lives.

How did you hear about Hand to Hold? What were you looking for? What did you hope to find?

My son Daniel was born on March 2, 2010, at 31-½ weeks in Brownsville, Texas. Within a week of his birth, he was life-flighted to Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) where he spent three months in the NICU III. During this time, my husband, George, commuted regularly between Brownsville, Houston, and Austin. In August of that year, George started in the full-time MBA program at UT Austin while I stayed in Houston to look after Daniel and continue with follow up visits to TCH. Daniel and I finally joined George in September.

After a month of living in Austin and feeling extremely overwhelmed with Daniel’s medical needs, I reached out to a friend of my mother-in-law who told me about Hand to Hold. I immediately looked up Hand to Hold’s website and dialed Kelli’s number.

When I contacted Kelli, I did not know where to start looking for the endless list of specialists and therapists that my son needed. Even though I lived a few blocks away from Dell Children’s Hospital, I was hoping to find a parent that could tell me about his or her experiences with different doctors and therapists in the Austin area.

What was having another parent to talk to like? Did you find it helpful?

When I spoke to Kelli, I felt that we were speaking the same language. She understood how I felt. Talking to someone who has gone through a similar experience made a big difference for me. Even though we had never met or spoken before, she knew exactly how I felt as well.

Kelli directed me to a variety of helpful resources for doctors and therapists. She also matched me with another parent who had been in a similar situation. The parent that she matched me with had also moved to Austin within a few months of her daughter’s birth, and the parent found herself in a very similar situation to mine. That parent happened to be Marty Barnes.

Marty was very helpful in advising me how to navigate the inter-workings of the regional medical system. I was so impressed with the website that she designed for her daughter and mainly with how calm and at peace she seemed. She helped me believe that my family’s emotional storm would eventually pass!

Toward the end of my conversation with Kelli, she asked me: “How are you feeling?” I remember not being able to answer the question because I burst into tears. I truly was the last person I could think of during those months. I managed to tell her that I needed a Bible study. Kelli then kindly invited me to join the Bible study that she attends.

Since that fateful call to Kelli, Hand to Hold and our Bible study have helped guide me in my journey of living in a new city and embracing a child with special needs.

I know you’ve come to a few of our Lunch & Learns and quarterly discussion
series – What do you get from those? Would you recommend them? Why?

I have attended several Lunch & Learn events and quarterly discussion series. I really appreciate Hand to Hold organizing these events. I have been able to meet other parents, therapists, and experts on different topics related to my child’s special needs. I highly recommend parents attend those sessions where you’ll have the opportunity to discuss topics with experts.

Has been being a part of the Hand to Hold community helped?

Absolutely! Being part of Hand to Hold has made me feel that I am not alone on this journey. The organization has reassured me that there are other parents who struggle with the demands of special needs children. In every case, these parents have learned to accept their personal circumstances.

I know Hand to Hold has many goals, and the people who participate in the management of the organization work very hard each day. I sincerely appreciate  all that these good people do, and I pray that Hand to Hold will receive more contributions so that it can reach its long-term goals and perhaps expand its mission to other cities and states.

What would you tell other parents about Hand to Hold?

I would tell them that Hand to Hold is an organization in which the leaders truly understand the complexity of having a premature baby and/or a child with special needs. These wonderful people are here to hold your hand — literally and figuratively. For me and to my family Hand to Hold has been a huge blessing! Thank you!

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