This week is National Volunteer Week!
Volunteers are essential to our organization, and Hand to Hold simply could not function effectively without them. Volunteer Peer Mentors provide the backbone for our successful peer support network. Community volunteers assist us at events such as NICU reunions and our annual Baby Shower Luncheon and perform administrative tasks at our office in Austin, Texas. They fundraise for NICU families as a part of Team Hand to Hold. Our board is comprised of volunteers, and many of our committees are made up of community members who give their time. The time and talents of all of these individuals and groups ensure that families can continue to access Hand to Hold’s services at no cost to them.
In short, volunteers donate their valuable time to further Hand to Hold’s mission of providing valuable peer support to NICU and bereaved families. We could not do what we do without them!
Volunteer Coordinator Sara Schulz and Family Support Navigator Jenny Landry work closely with volunteers each day in their roles. We talked to them a little about how they work with volunteers and why the role of the volunteer is so important to Hand to Hold.
Volunteer and Fulfillment Coordinator
Works with: Community volunteers and volunteer groups local to Austin, TX
Sara has the unique position of having been a recipient of Hand to Hold’s services after her daughter, Nora, was born at 32 weeks, 1 day. A few years later, Sara became a Hand to Hold volunteer, working as a peer mentor, volunteering on our event committee, and eventually joining the staff as an event coordinator. Now Sara works with local volunteers and volunteer groups as our Volunteer and Fulfillment Coordinator.
Sara says: Volunteers are essential to what we do on a day-to-day basis. The community volunteers I work with fill two big roles: they help manage our supplies, filling parent packets and assembling necklaces for our bead program, and they staff our local events, from reunions to our annual Baby Shower Luncheon.
Sara’s favorite thing about working with Hand to Hold volunteers: My favorite moments are seeing people who previously had no idea what Hand to Hold is or what we do learn about our mission. The look on their faces when they realize we are providing comfort and understanding to families who are going through this impossibly hard time and that they are a part of this is amazing. And so often volunteers have a story of their own – they were in the NICU, or someone close to them was in the NICU or has suffered a loss or had a challenging diagnosis. It truly is an issue that touches so many lives, and when volunteers feel they are doing something concrete to provide support for those families, you can see how much joy it brings to them, even if they’ll never meet.
Family Support Navigator
Works with: Volunteer Peer Mentors
Jenny says: I love working with Peer Mentors and seeing how eager they are to help other families who are walking the same path they once did. Peer Mentors are the only people in the unique position to understand what a new NICU parent is going through. Not even their own families have the understanding that their mentor will have.
Jenny’s favorite thing about working with volunteer Peer Mentors: I adore hearing from families who have been supported by mentors, letting me know how much having a mentor has meant to them. And I especially love when families who have had a mentor contact me later to become mentors themselves. Knowing how much new relief NICU parents get from our experienced Peer Mentors and that I get to facilitate that relationship is everything.
Are you interested in getting involved and making a difference in the lives of NICU families? Find out more about Community Volunteers and Peer Mentors.