Hand to Hold


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Our apologies! We accidentally hit send too soon on our last email. Here's the correct version with a more appropriate title. Have a great weekend!

Patience (and Hard Work) Pays Off

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 fully ready to 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 minivan 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 understand fully 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 who 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!


Give Your Year-End Gift Today

As 2018 draws to a close, there’s still time to make your tax-deductible gift to Hand to Hold! A gift of just $25 connects a family to critical support from a family support navigator through our toll-free number or email.   Find out more about how your gift will be thoughtfully put to use to improve outcomes for the NICU families we serve.


Volunteers Needed for Team Hand to Hold!

Each year Hand to Hold mans an aid station at the Austin Marathon, and we need your help to make it a fun, successful day! Volunteers help set up the water and sports drink tables, hand out cups during the race and clean up the area. Best of all, you get to witness and cheer on all the amazing runners during the race!  Sign up to volunteer here!


Peer Mentor Growth

Our Peer Mentor program has had tremendous growth, adding 33 new peer mentors to our volunteer list from July 2018 to September 2018. That's a 27% increase in volunteer mentors in only three months! Your support ensures our mentors have the best training and are equipped to help many NICU families.   Learn more about our award-winning Peer Mentor program.


Providing Support After the NICU

In September 2018 we launched our latest support program, Beyond the NICU, an in-person support group specifically for NICU graduate families. For many families, the difficulties are not over once they leave the NICU. This support group provides a safe space for addressing the ongoing emotions that come with caring for little ones with continuing health care needs, offering continuation of care to families following discharge.

We are very excited to start this pilot program in Austin so we may provide better care to our local graduate families as they return home.


Welcome, Katrina and Cristal!

We are thrilled to welcome two new employees, Katrina Moline and Cristal Carrasco!

Cristal CarrascoKatrina joins us as our new Operations Director. She is a NICU parent of a 24-weeker who is now nine years old and a full term baby who is now six. Katrina has been an active peer mentor, volunteer and friend of Hand to Hold for many years.

Cristal CarrascoCristal joins us as our newest Ambassador and will spearhead our support programs at Seton Medical Center here in Austin. Cristal is a Certified Peer Specialist and the proud mother of 28-week triplet NICU graduates who are now nine years old and a full-term baby who is now two.

Welcome to the team, Katrina and Cristal!


Giving Tuesday was a HUGE success!

What a day! Together, we raised over $9,000 to go towards providing NICU and bereaved families with critical resources that can improve their lives. We made important strides that will have a lasting impact.

A special thank you to Viva Pediatrics and URS Medical who generously matched your donations during our two Power Hours!


From the Blog

Discovering Courage Through My Preemie by Katie Reginato Cascamo. Through her traumatic pregnancy, premature delivery and 56-day NICU stay, Katie discovered courage and what it really means to fight like a preemie.

Peer Mentors Share Their Experiences Working with NICU Families. No one understands what a NICU parent is going through like another NICU parent. We asked three active peer mentors to share their experiences mentoring other families and what helping other NICU families in need of support means to them.

When Your NICU Baby is Full Term by Vicki Cockerill. Not all NICU babies are preemies. Vicki shares her story of having a full-term NICU baby with frightening health complications.



About Hand to Hold

Hand to Hold helps families before, during, and after NICU stays and infant loss by providing powerful resources for the whole family, and most importantly, one-on-one mentoring from someone who has been there. Read more.



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Email: info@handtohold.org
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