Today we’re introducing you to Cristal Carrasco, one of our amazing Family Support Specialists. Cristal administers our Ambassador Program in the NICU at Seton Medical Center Austin, providing vital support to parents, leading weekly support groups and hosting special events for holidays and other celebratory opportunities. Most recently she helped celebrate NICU nurses with a fun coffee bar for Neonatal Nurses Week. Let’s get to know Cristal!
What do you do at Hand to Hold?
I am a Family Support Specialist (FFS): a certified Mental Health Peer Specialist who aims to help families navigate their NICU journey by sharing my own lived experience, connecting families with resources available to them and offering weekly peer support groups and monthly sibling and dad-focused support groups.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
I love being an FSS because it is so amazing to hear the relief and see the change in a parent’s face when I introduce myself to a family and explain that I am here to support them, and that I have been where they are now. The nurses and doctors do amazing work taking care of babies, and I get to focus on moms and families.
I often tell families that what I do is like a “band-aid.” I cannot fix their baby, nor can I make the time they will spend in the NICU go by any faster, but what I can do is help the journey feel lighter. I am there to listen, to provide a weekly meal, to make sure their milestone necklace stays updated, to connect them with other families who are going through or have been through similar situations, and to host special events during holidays, which can be an especially tough time to spend in the NICU.
What has been your favorite part of being a Family Support Specialist so far?
My favorite thing about being an FSS is getting to know people in the NICU and learning their story, seeing babies progress and having families come back to visit groups. This just melts my heart.
5 random facts about Cristal
Favorite food: Thai – spring rolls & red curry
Favorite animal: Cats – especially orange ones.
Kids: Triplets (turning 10 this year) Delilah, Adam and Abel. Esperanza (turning 3 on Christmas Eve).
Guilty pleasure: Playing Clash of Clans and Clash Royale
Favorite Disney princess: Moana
Thanks for giving us the chance to learn a little more about you, Cristal!