Patience (and Hard Work) Pays Off

December 13, 2018

Kelli Kelley hand to hold

I know patience is a virtue, but I don’t have any! You would think that two NICU stays in less than three years would have given me ample opportunity to learn patience as I waited for my babies to be discharged home. But unfortunately, patience is just not part of my DNA.

My first meeting with Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas, took place almost eight years ago. While warm and welcoming, the seasoned Perinatal Services Director, Susan Crane, wisely told me Hand to Hold was not ready to fully meet the needs of the NICU parents in her charge. She told me she had seen many well-meaning and impassioned NICU graduate parents come and go. While fueled by their child’s NICU experience, they wanted to give back, but ultimately, their passion would fade as would the programs they started. She told me to come back when I had a proven model, proven results and a long-term plan for sustainability.

I am not going to lie, I was crushed. I sat in my mini van in the parking lot and cried. I knew how desperately I longed for support during my NICU stays, and I was certain Hand to Hold could help parents during the most traumatic and difficult time in their lives. I was too new in the nonprofit sector and too naïve to fully understand just how hard it is to grow a nonprofit organization from scratch – one that could outlive my leadership and prosper for years to come. I gave myself 15 minutes to feel sad, then I wiped my tears and set my resolve to meet Susan’s challenge.

We are set to begin serving families at Seton in January 2019. I am so sad that Susan is not alive today to welcome Hand to Hold into the hospital. No doubt she would be the first to recognize the hard work and dedication of so many that have made this day possible. And while it was difficult to receive her feedback all those years ago, I would have humbly told her she was right. It took a lot of resolve and patience to grow Hand to Hold into the organization it is today. We have built an award-winning peer mentor program that provides support to families across the country and around the globe. Our multiple podcast channels reach thousands of families a month in 65 countries. And our educational resources and milestone bead program are utilized in hospitals around the country. Our participation in both Mission Capital’s Mission Accelerator program as well as United Way Dallas’s Groundfloor program have helped us build a sustainability model that will ensure Hand to Hold’s long-term success. I hope Susan would now feel confident in giving her blessing.

Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this partnership possible. From NICU graduate parents, volunteers, NICU staff, social workers, neonatologists, community leaders and donors, thank you for being a champion for Hand to Hold and NICU parent support. We could not be prouder to be part of the Seton family!

Good things come to those who wait – if you work hard and never give up!

hand to hold seton hospital, TITLE boxing club

Speaking of not giving up, we had a blast at our free class with TITLE Boxing Club Austin North! Our instructor, Jay (left), led us through an intense workout that has us all sweating up a storm! Thanks, Jay, and thank you TITLE Boxing for collecting donations for Hand to Hold throughout the month of November!