It’s been quite an exciting year here at Hand to Hold! As we reflect on our accomplishments of the past year, we look forward to serving more NICU families in 2019. Here are some of the highlights from the past year.
In February we participated once again in the Austin Marathon as an official charity of Austin Gives Miles. The 50 members of Team Hand to Hold, including our friends at Austin Retina Associates, helped us raise over $22,000! Want to join us for the 2019 race as a volunteer or member of Team Hand to Hold? Find out how!
In April we launched our much-anticipated (by us at least!) newly designed website. We worked closely with our designer to make sure everyone can access the information they need, from NICU families to volunteers.
In April we also launched our second podcast series, NICU Heroes, created exclusively for NICU professionals. This podcast series is designed to help NICU professionals to better understand, support, and nurture the entire NICU family, and each episode is worth one contact hour of nursing continuing education.
In May Hand to Hold was named a 2019 Groundfloor Fellow and began participation in the United Way Metropolitan Dallas’s Groundfloor program. As a part of the program, we worked with mentors and peers to help us refine our resources and programs to be more sustainable and impactful for our communities. Read more about our experience here.
In May we also kicked off our Mother’s Day campaign. Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to send sweet Mother’s Day necklaces out to NICU moms.
In June we celebrated the bright futures of NICU babies and their families with our #FutureSoBright campaign. We shared some wonderful stories on social media and here on our blog from families who shared the bright future hopes for their NICU graduates, and we sent hundreds of fun, bright green sunglasses to donors and volunteers so they could share their stories and photos on social media. Read some of the heartwarming and impactful stories from NICU families #FutureSoBright here.
September was the start of a busy season for Hand to Hold! We released three new NICU Now episodes on the bed rest experience: Bed Rest: the Basics, Bed Rest with a Multiples Pregnancy and Bed Rest with a High-Risk Pregnancy. These episodes will hopefully give hope and inspiration to many moms to come who are enduring these situations.
In September we also traveled to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to attend Fashion Gives Back, an annual fashion show and fundraising event hosted by Lauren Monroe and Mimosa Boutique. The event welcomed 800 guests and raised an amazing $70,000 for Hand to Hold and NICU families. Because of her continued support of our mission, we presented Lauren with our first ever Family Support Champion honor. Read more about why Lauren started Fashion Gives Back and why she supports Hand to Hold.
Finally, in September we launched the Beyond the NICU support group, an opportunity to provide better care to our local NICU graduate families. Currently in the pilot stages, this support group provides a safe space for addressing the ongoing emotions that come with caring for little ones with continuing health care needs. We also experienced an increase in our peer mentor program adding 33 new peer mentors to our volunteer list. Your support makes sure these mentors have the best training and can help many NICU families.
October was a huge month for Hand to Hold’s podcasts! We launched our newest series, NICU Love and Loss. No one understands what it’s like to lose a baby like someone who has been there. In each episode, bereaved parents share their stories and discuss the many stages of grief, letting other parents know they are not alone. Listen to NICU Love and Loss here.
Also in October, we added four new episodes to NICU Now: Understanding Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Advancing Fortification for the Tiniest Babies, Advocating for NICU Babies and Families and Finding Your Voice as a NICU Parent. We also added a new episode to NICU Heroes on Developmental Diapering. Find all of Hand to Hold’s podcasts here.
November is always an exciting month or us. First we hosted over 400 friends, supporters and community members at our 5th Annual Baby Shower Luncheon. Guests enjoyed our fun Diaper Pull game, a silent auction and our special guest speaker Ginger Zee inspired everyone with her message of resilience and self care, then graciously socialized with guests at our VIP reception. This year’s luncheon raised over $200,000 in support of our mission!
In November we also observe Prematurity Awareness Month, an opportunity for us to recognize the impact prematurity has around the globe. Beginning with World Prematurity Day on November 17 and peaking on Giving Tuesday, parents from our community shared their stories and what it means for them to #FightLikeAPreemie. We’re thrilled to say that we met our goal of raising over $9,000 on Giving Tuesday! Read some of the inspiring #FightLikeAPreemie stories from our blog contributors here! Thanks to Title Boxing Club Austin North for fundraising for Hand to Hold during the month of November and hosting a fun, free boxing class for us!
In December we took a deep breath. Our participation in the Groudfloor program came to an end. We said goodbye to some beloved employees and welcomed several new ones into our family. And we signed the lease on our second office space, which will allow us to expand not just our workspace, but our resources and abilities to give continued outstanding support to NICU families in Texas and around the country in 2019 and beyond. We look forward to bringing our services to Seton Medical Center in the coming year and bringing our families even more of our support resources.
You are the reason we do what we do, and we couldn’t do it without you: our families and our generous supporters. Thank you for being with us throughout 2018. We look forward to more exciting updates in 2019!