Hand to Hold is fortunate to have so many wonderful supporters to help spread our mission of providing support to NICU families. Today we’re highlighting three special people who have generously supported us in the last few months through their incredible acts of service.
Karen Saunders, Bambinos Boutique
Karen Saunders is the owner of Bambinos Boutique, a baby store and clothing line based in San Antonio, Texas. After 15 years in banking and bringing home two NICU grads, Karen decided to leave the corporate world for the entrepreneur life. Now she curates, creates and customizes clothing and essentials for little ones and is passionate about helping families of all babies, including the tiniest and most fragile.
Karen has periodically hosted shopping events at Bambinos, with a portion of the proceeds going to Hand to Hold, including Giving Tuesday in November, when she donated proceeds from sales that day. Bambinos is currently working on the 25th anniversary Fiesta medal, and all proceeds of the medal will also benefit Hand to Hold. She is hoping these events create more awareness about Hand to Hold in the San Antonio area.
Karen describes her NICU experiences as lonely as isolating, especially her first NICU stay with a full term infant who didn’t “fit in.” Five years later, after delivering her second daughter at 30 weeks, Karen was introduced to Hand to Hold by her friend and former colleague (and current Chair of the Hand to Hold Board of Directors), Lana Macrum-Craig. Karen immediately joined Hand to Hold’s online communities and took comfort in hearing from others who had gone through what she was going through.
Why does Karen support Hand to Hold? “The warmth of the community drew me in, and the knowledge and resources available kept me engaged well beyond the early months at home. Now, I want people going through what I went through to have the support I didn’t have.”
Karen says that although she didn’t know about the Peer Mentor Program when she was in the NICU, she did find a lot of support and comfort through the NICU Family Forum Facebook page, with its inspirational and educational posts and the ability for parents to participate as much or as little as they like.
Donna McIntire knows first hand how a NICU stay impacts the entire family. Her grandson, Declan, AKA Super Dex, was born at 25 weeks, 4 days and spent 103 days in the NICU. Donna provided support to her daughter, Becky, throughout her NICU stay and has continued to do so. Super Dex is now a happy two-year-old!
An a Google Cloud Customer Engineer, Donna nominated Hand to Hold to be a Featured Charity for this year’s Google Giving Week through the Austin Google offices. Google triple matched all donations made to Hand to Hold by their employees, and in addition, Donna personally matched Google employee contributions, up to $1000.
On why she is such a fervent supporter of Hand to Hold, Donna says, “I am often deeply touched by the stories I read and the families I witness being helped by your amazing organization. Families are thrust into this role quite by surprise. This blindside makes them think they did something wrong or they are alone. Quite the opposite!! Not only do they need hands to hold during the NICU experience, early and often, but after they go home when they are usually more isolated and faced with well meaning friends and family that do not understand or appreciate the ongoing and necessary restrictions around public contact, food, sound, scents and so much more. The only way to keep their ‘cup full’ is to have that psychosocial support structure to help them stay strong through the roller coaster ride.”
Melissa ran the Austin Marathon for Team Hand to Hold in 2018 in memory of her late son and daughter, Ryan and Kinsey, that were born on December 2, 2005, at 23 weeks and 5 days. She also ran to honor her daughters, Kallie & Maryn, that were born healthy and full-term after five pregnancies. Maryn spent five days in the NICU after birth, and while Melissa feels that doesn’t compare to the months and months many families endure, it seemed like a lifetime to her.
Melissa believes that Hand to Hold breaks down the walls of isolation and provides the love and support to families during one of the hardest times they will face. She ran to support babies gone too soon, NICU babies, graduates of the NICU, and all of their families. Melissa has also volunteered her time at our Baby Shower Luncheon and contributes her writing and research skills with informative articles on the Hand to Hold blog.
We are so grateful to all who support Hand to Hold through monetary gifts, volunteering their time, and more. We truly could not do this without you!