Much of the support Hand to Hold provides relies on the hard work and dedication of our amazing volunteers who believe in our mission and donate their time and efforts to help NICU families. Each one of our community volunteers and volunteer peer mentors is a vital part of the Hand to Hold team.
In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’re sharing stories from our volunteer community. Thank you, volunteers, for all that you do!
Meet Shondra B., volunteer peer mentor
Shondra B. has been a Hand to Hold peer mentor since 2016. A former preemie herself, she delivered twins at 24 weeks. Shondra’s twins were treated in two different NICUs after one baby developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and sadly passed away. Since becoming a peer mentor, Shondra has mentored other families who have endured the devastating loss of a twin in the NICU, guiding them with her intentional and purposeful support and understanding that can only come from someone who has shared a similar experience.
“I, like so many others, found myself joining Facebook groups dedicated to the NICU or preemie experience while going through my journey. I then realized that I was giving people advice that related to my experience. I found it to be helpful and a bit healing. It just so happened that on someone’s comment, there was an individual that mentioned finding a mentor through Hand to Hold.
“I immediately went to the link they provided. I read the entire website, and when I saw they offered training on becoming a mentor, I thought this may be a great way to honor the child I lost and aid in my continual healing.
“I do things in private and with purpose. Before I took the training, I thought long and hard about the commitment I was going to make to others. While I was going through this life-changing experience, I didn’t have anyone that completely understood how I felt. I wanted to be that someone that understands for someone else.
“Listening, relating and imparting the wisdom I gathered through my own experience has been so healing for me. What better way to honor my child than by helping others. I really hope that I have been able to make an impact on those I have mentored through this program. I am thankful that Hand to Hold exists.”
What an amazing testament to the power peer support plays in healing from a mentor standpoint. Thank you, Shondra, for your dedication to providing that comfort and understanding for others.
National Charity League makes scent cloths for NICU families
Community volunteers support NICU families by giving their time with hands-on and remote support to our organization. These volunteers complete tasks such as providing support group lunches at the three Austin-area hospitals Hand to Hold serves, assembling parent welcome bags for incoming NICU families, assembling NICU Milestone Bead Necklaces, and making scent cloths for families to use in the NICU, an important part of the bonding experience.
Hand to Hold also partners with volunteer groups, like the National Charity League, for volunteer work. For their volunteer hours, Amy Wagner and her daughter, Emily, made hundreds of scent cloths for families currently in the NICU.
“We love making scent cloths for Hand to Hold! Thank you so much for all that you do to support NICU families. We are happy to help!” Amy Wagner, NCL