Featured Organization – Pierce’s Project
When our son, Pierce was born at just 23 weeks 5 days gestation and weighing in at a mere 1.5 lbs, we were thrown into a whole new world. We vaguely knew about preemies, but had no idea that one this small could survive. Three letter acronyms were thrown at us over the next few days and weeks: PDA, NEC, IVH, PVL and ROP, to name a few. We were tormented by the unknown. Afraid to look online, for fear that the answers we would ﬁnd would be less than comforting. The statistics we were told were grim.
Throughout our son’s 118 day NICU journey, we found ourselves asking the same question repeatedly- were we the only ones? Were there other micropreemies out there in Charlotte? If so, how are they doing? Where are they now? And how can we meet them? Of course, due to HIPPA laws the answers we received to those nagging questions were met with vague and general responses.
Despite our lack of answers, something incredible happened throughout Pierce’s NICU stay. Parents, namely moms, began reaching out to us via our blog. They began sharing their stories with us. Sharing their struggles. Sharing their outcomes. Answering those questions we once had.
Those parents became some of our biggest cheerleaders. With every blog post, they would chime in. I can’t begin to tell you how comforting this was to us. You see, we knew that they knew how we were feeling. The sense of triumph we felt when after 54 days we ﬁnally got rid of the ventilator, they had felt it at some point too. The excitement we had when Pierce pooped for the ﬁrst time– they got that too. And the pains and struggles- those dreaded surgery days, the scary infections, bottle feeding and bradys- they got that too.
And so it seems silly to write about our story and not include them: our support system. To not include those parents who rallied behind us (many of them virtually) and “held” our hands would make the telling of our story incomplete. They’re as much of a part of our story as the doctors and nurses who cared for Pierce. You see, they cared for us.
And so when Pierce was discharged from the NICU (perhaps even before), we immediately knew the one thing we wanted to do for other parents. We wanted to give them hope. We wanted to give them love. We wanted to answer their nagging questions honestly and sincerely. We wanted to give them the same support network that we’d been so blessed to have.
Out of that desire, Pierce’s Project was born. We launched in April 2012 (around our son’s birthday) and have been busy planning and organizing since. Our focus is to stay local, to create deep and meaningful relationships with our families and to put our efforts into creating a support network for the families that we serve. And we are so excited to provide our families with something that we didn’t have in the beginning: a network of local families who have walked (or are still walking) this journey. To link their hands and allow them to walk side by side down this scary road.
Pierce’s Project is a 501-3(c) non-proﬁt that is managed by Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation and serves the estimated 150 micropreemies that come through Charlotte, NC each year. We provide services to the 2 local hospitals caring for these babies: Levine Children’s Hospital and Hemby Children’s Hospitals.
Pierce’s Project serves the families of micropreemies in many ways, but our 2 primary focuses are:
- Our supportive, informational care packages. These care packages are designed to offer hope and support to families of micropreemies. They have been carefully designed to include information and resources that we feel are essential for this long journey. Our favorite piece of the care packages is our “Stories of Hope” booklet that is ﬁlled with over 30 stories (and growing!) of other micropreemies in Charlotte. The intention is that when parents are sitting in the NICU, asking the same questions we once asked, a simple ﬂip of the photo book will give them hope and let them know that they are not alone. We also wanted these parents to visually see how far these kids have gone.
- Our monthly meetings. One of our goals is to connect parents of micropreemies on a local level. We do this by holding monthly meet ups for parents. If you’re in the Charlotte area, we invite you to check out our monthly meetings on the ﬁrst Thursday of the month. You can ﬁnd updated information on our Facebook page.
We would LOVE for you to join us in our efforts. If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.piercesproject.com.
Here are some easy ways to get involved with Pierce’s Project:
- Simply “like us” on Facebook and spread the word.
- Donate. We are accepting donations (ﬁnancial and in-kind). Please visit www.piercesproject.com/!#donate for a full list of items we are collecting. If you quilt or sew, we are ALWAYS in need of quilts, hats, diaper covers and blankets.
- If you’re in the Charlotte, NC area and would like to be more involved, we have a variety of service opportunities! Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.