Hand to Hold

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The Value of Giving
by Kelli Kelley, founder

christmas ornamentOn a cold day in December in the early eighties, my dad saw a man walking down the highway carrying an old sewing machine. My dad stopped and offered the man a ride. As the miles passed, the man shared that he had taken his late wife’s sewing machine into town for repairs because he needed to mend his young son’s clothes. It was apparent the man was facing some very difficult times.

He said his son wanted a BB gun for Christmas, but he could not afford it. As he often did, my father offered to help. The next week my mom and I accompanied my dad to a small home in need of repairs on the outskirts of town. I will never forget the joy of that little boy as we unloaded gifts of clothes, toys and food. No sooner than he had opened his much-anticipated BB gun, the boy turned and ran to his room, asking us to wait. He came back with a gift that he presented to my mom.

Inside a small plastic treasure chest that once held candy, the boy had placed a plastic monkey pendant. The treasure chest had been lovingly wrapped in worn wrapping paper held together with a piece of wire. Tears filled my mom’s eyes as she put on the old brooch. For more than 30 years we have placed that precious gift on our tree as a reminder of the true meaning of the holidays.

From an early age my parents taught my sister and me the value of giving back. We hosted annual holiday parties for disadvantaged youth. We delivered homemade soup, cheesy casseroles and fresh vegetables from my dad’s garden to sick friends, shut-ins and new moms. And we spent hours at the nursing home visiting not only our relatives, but those that had no family.

We were not wealthy. But we gave the gift of friendship to those who so desperately needed it. It did not matter the person’s political preferences, skin color, social status or religious beliefs.

In a time of so much divisiveness, I keep thinking about the NICU as the great equalizer. Parents of every age, religion, race, economic status and political party are represented behind those locked doors. And when you are there, you don’t care that much about foreign policy, the economy or immigration. You just want your baby to live.

I hope our nation can embrace the holiday season as a time for healing by reaching out to those in need, forgetting politics and opening our hearts to others that are desperate for a friend, a new coat or a warm meal.

As the Executive Director of Hand to Hold, I encounter heartbreaking stories every day. But I also bear witness to tremendous acts of kindness, selflessness and generosity. People giving of their time, talents and financial gifts to ensure others have the support they need during very challenging times.

I am so thankful for the lessons my parents taught me through action, not just words. There is no doubt those lessons laid the foundation of Hand to Hold. I will think about that this year as I hang my favorite ornament on the tree.

Happy Holidays,

Annual Baby Shower Luncheon Celebrates Friendship with Author Melanie Shankle

baby shower 2016 collage

Nearly 500 local NICU parents, healthcare professionals and community leaders enjoyed a Wizard of Oz-themed Baby Shower Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Austin on Nov 4. Highlights included a heartwarming speech about friendship from NYT bestselling author Melanie Shankle, an acoustic performance by all-female rock band The Mrs., fabulous raffle packages, a cocktail hour and VIP reception. We would like to thank our sponsors, table hosts, individual donors and planning committee. Together we are able to ensure NICU families have a Hand to Hold during and after a NICU stay or loss.

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Connect With Us

Like us on Facebook!Follow us on Twitter!Watch us on YouTubePin us on PinterestNICU Family Voices 28nicu family forum 28

#FashionGivesBack to NICU Families!

fashion gives back 2016For the past two years, Hand to Hold has been the beneficiary charity for Fashion Gives Back, an annual style show hosted by Lauren Monroe, owner of Mimosa Boutique in Lake Charles, Louisiana. At our recent Baby Shower, Lauren presented Hand to Hold with a $30,000 donation from the proceeds of this year’s show.  We cannot thank Lauren enough for her generosity and support of our mission. 

Honor a NICU baby this holiday season

christmas babyCelebrate the holiday season by supporting NICU and bereaved families with a gift in honor of a NICU family. Please consider a gift to Hand to Hold to honor those babies who are still in the NICU, those who are home with us and those we have lost. Donate today at handtohold.org/give.

Recruiting 5K Walkers for Team Hand to Hold!

Team Hand to Hold

We are looking for 25 Austin-area walkers and runners to join Team Hand to Hold and compete in upcoming races in support of NICU families. Share your own personal NICU story or walk/run on behalf of a family currently receiving services from Hand to Hold. We are now recruiting members to participate in the Paramount 5K and Austin Marathon and Half Marathon on February 19, 2017. Sign up here or contact jessica@handtohold.org for more info.

Shop for Good with Amazon Smile

amazon smileAvoid the long lines and shop from the comfort of your couch this holiday season and support Hand to Hold at the same time! Visit smile.amazon.com then select Hand to Hold as your charity of choice. Each eligible purchase you make on Amazon Smile will result in a donation!

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.

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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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