Hand to Hold

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The Warmth of a Grateful Heart
by Kelli Kelley 

Hand to Hold staffI am a Texas girl through and through. There is no time this is more apparent than in the wintertime. I hate being cold! Ironically, our family is gearing up for a white Christmas as we prepare to celebrate the holidays with my husband’s family in Michigan. What will keep me warm (other than my snazzy new red coat) is the gratefulness I feel for our volunteers, donors, staff and board who have given so much this year to insure NICU families feel the warmth of support during a difficult journey.

Our network – both in and out of the hospital – empowers parents to become confident caregivers and meet the needs of their medically fragile baby. And as babies grow and adapt, so does our organization and the services we offer. Based on direct feedback from hospitals and NICU families, we concentrated our efforts this year on modifying our educational resources to incorporate new topics. We also adopted a new user-friendly format to allow overwhelmed parents to access the right information at the right time. As a result, this year we introduced Navigating The NICU, the second book in our new NICU Handbook Education Series.

Likewise, in 2015, we responded to an increased demand for antepartum support, sibling education and individualized (bedside) support in the NICU. Beyond the hospital doors, we served thousands of families through our online resources. Just last month, we reached one million visits on our parent blog PreemieBabies101.org and 400,000 visitors on our website, HandtoHold.org. This is only further evidence that the need for Hand to Hold continues to grow.

As I reflect on these and other successes of 2015, it warms my heart to think of how many families Hand to Hold has touched this year and the direct impact we are having in their lives during a very challenging time. It is our hope that Hand to Hold will continue to raise the bar for NICU family support and positively influence the standard of psychosocial support provided across the country.

This holiday season, please join me in giving warmth to NICU families through your financial support. When you donate $100 or more during the month of December, we will donate a knitted baby cap to a NICU family for their precious little one to commemorate their first holiday season. You can also make your gift in honor or in memory of a special NICU family or medical professional in your life. Your generosity will be put to use immediately to help reduce the impact of a NICU stay and ensure best outcomes for families! Donate today

May a grateful heart keep you warm as you celebrate with your family this holiday season!


With Gratitude,

Kelli D. Kelley

2nd Annual Baby Shower a Success!

Baby Shower 2015

Raising nearly $190,000, the 2nd Annual Baby Shower was a success! Thanks to our generous donors and sponsors, dedicated volunteers, keynote speaker Glennon Doyle Melton, staff and board for making this another sold-out event. The games alone sold out in 22 minutes! If you would like to serve on next year's committee, please email events@handtohold.org. Be sure to save the date for next year's shower with author Melanie Shankle on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Austin. (Pictured above: Baby Shower co-chair Megan Helmbrecht, Hand to Hold founder Kelli Kelley, and co-chair Emily Galatzan.)

More Good Stuff

New Hope for 22-Week Preemies

22 week preemieShould doctors resuscitate 22-week preemies? When Eric Rutherford's son was born in 2012, the doctors said no, and he was nearly lost. Now, the rules have changed, providing important support for parents who wish to go forward with treatment for their 22-week preemies

Christmas With a Preemie: Expectations vs. Reality

christmas with a preemieNICU parents often have idealistic expectations of Baby's first Christmas, but sometimes out realities don't meet our expectations. When Julie Cruz brought home her preemie, she knew this Christmas would be different than she imagined, as she and her family adapted to their new reality.

Keeping Spirits Bright: Thriving During the Holidays

candleFor many, the holidays can be the most painful and confusing time of the year. This is particularly relevant for families who have/had babies in the NICU. The mixture of hope and loss, joy and stress, can cause a roller-coaster of emotion that leaves us wondering – what’s wrong with us, why can’t we just have our holly, jolly Christmas?

Birth Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

forestHealing is a process. Three years after the traumatic birth of her son at 23 weeks gestation, Kara Wahlin speaks out about her experience with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Breast Milk Donation: A Priceless Gift for Preemies

baby NICU bottleThe power of breast milk is amazing. From brain development to immunoprotection, doctors and researchers continue to discover new properties that reaffirm the magic and mystery of mother’s milk. LaShanda Gordon shares her gratitude towards the mother who provided her triplets with donor milk in their fragile first few days of life.

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#GiveWarmth This Holiday Season!

This month, when you donate $100 or more, Hand to Hold will donate a knitted baby cap to a NICU family for their precious little one to commemorate their first holiday season. DONATE NOW

Donations to be Matched for Team Hand to Hold! 

Team Hand to HoldMake your New Year's Resolution to run/walk in honor of a NICU family! We are looking for at least three more runners to join our team for the Paramount 5K and Austin Marathon/Half Marathon on Feb. 14th. You can also help by making a donation to help a runner meet their goal at www.handtohold.org/run. Donations to any of the members will be matched up to $10,000 thanks to a grant from the Moody Foundation. Email jessica@handtohold.org or sign up HERE.

You Shop. Amazon Gives.

Skip the stores and shop online through AmazonSmiles for all your holiday giving needs. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Hand To Hold whenever you shop on AmazonSmile.

amazon smile

Farewell to Outgoing Board President

scott WhitakerHand to Hold would like to recognize outgoing board President Scott Whitaker for his dedicated service. A member of Hand to Hold's original board and serving as President for the past three years, Scott has been instrumental in helping Hand to Hold grow our mission to help more NICU families since our inception five years ago.

Preemie Power Winners: The Mighty Quad Squad!

mighty quad squadCongratulations to Alyssa, Carter, Miles & Bentley, better known as The Mighty Quad Squad. These adorable quadruplets won the 1-2 year age category in our 2015 Preemie Power Photo & Essay Contest, and were also crowned the Thundering Thurston Overall Winners, taking home a prize package worth over $1000 from generous sponsors Bambinos Baby & Children's Boutique and Huggies. Congratulations to all of our category winners, and a heartlfelt thank you to all of the families who shared their stories. Read all Preemie Power stories here!

Union & Fifth Event - "Shop for Good"

union and fifthHand to Hold partnered with Union and Fifth for an afternoon of fashion and fun at the beautiful condo of Bobbi Topfer this past September. Union and Fifth develops online stores with pre-owned luxury items at a discounted price. The sale of these items supports organizations like Hand to Hold. The event was attended by 30 amazing women who generously donated their gently used luxury items to fill the Hand to Hold online store. Supporters can purchase items by visiting our store. Purchases are 100% tax-deductible, and 75% of the proceeds go directly to Hand to Hold. This holiday season "Shop for Good" and support families who are experiencing a NICU stay.

Volunteer Opportunities

Kelli visits VictoriaVolunteer your time to write supportive notes to be given to families in the NICU now and to say thanks to NICU staff during special recognition months. Or virtually correspond with a family who has had an experience similar to yours by becoming a Helping Hand peer mentor. Whether you have a little or a lot of time, we have a spot for you to make a difference today. Get started.

Connect to Support on Your Schedule

Julie Cruz and hubbieA baby's NICU stay or loss can be a lonely and isolating experience. Let our experienced Family Support Navigators help you connect to information, resources and support to help make the journey easier for you. Send us a request to begin

Past Issues

Read past eNewsletters.

   About Hand to Hold
Hand to Hold logoHand to Hold is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing comprehensive navigation resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications. 

Hand to Hold - www.handtohold.org - 855-H2H-NICU

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