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Hand to Hold

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Looking back, a year in review

As we begin to wrap up the year and look back at what we accomplished in 2017, I am always amazed by the incredible nonprofit founders we met this year. Their hardships, determination and passion to turn their journey into an organization that gives to others…. simply an endless source of inspiration.

So before we look ahead, lets take a moment to recall some of these extraordinary people we talked to in 2017:

Katie Quintas with Here to Serve showed us that in the face of adversity of having a husband and a son with cancer, she would create an organization to serve families whose children have cancer. Katie combines technology , her ability to connect and compassion to help families with items from food, to groceries to medical expenses.

Francie Paul with Saving Tiny Hearts, took her experience having a newborn with congenital heart disease to create an organization that funds research to save these tiny babies born with congenital heart disease. One of the loveliest humans with the biggest hearts I have ever spoken too.

Rebecca Pontius of the Do Good Bus. Rebecca and her friends decided that doing good together is fun and makes the world better, so she created a nonprofit that brings groups of people together to volunteer and do good. A fun way to serve, connect and make a difference.

Andy Goodman of the The Goodman Center shared how to use the power of storytelling as a tool to impact the world.

Two amazing women, Yasmine Johnson and Jules Leyser of Alliance of Moms created an organization to break the intergenerational cycle of teen mothers in foster care and inspired me with their incredible organization. These two women are beautiful inside and out and ones to watch for sure!

Ford and Heidi Johnson, Jennifer Hull, daughter Josie and Sienna Dancsecs

Jennifer Hull and daughter Josie, founders of Once Upon a Room, transform hospital rooms for the sickest children, think Extreme Home makeovers on hospital rooms. Their story is beyond inspirational and one for all to see.

Hand to Hold‘s Kelli Kelly inspired us all with her story of being the mother of a premature baby and the struggles that ensued. The result is her incredible organization that supports families through this challenging time. A beautiful story of love and compassion.

Hope and Comfort‘s Jeff Feingold’s amazing story of taking his child’s birthday party and turning it into a nonprofit that provides soap, toiletries along with  Hope and Comfort to thousands of children in the Boston area.

Annie Cannons The incredible story of Laura Hackney and Jessica Hubley’s remarkable adventure to end human trafficking in the United States. A nonprofit that not only teaches women how to write computer code but gives them skills, an education, hope and the ability to break the cycle and create change for others. Two of the most inspiring women and the most brilliant organization that is approaching a horrific topic in a fresh and empowering way.

JoAnn Thrailkill of Pablove showed us that even when your loss is overwhelming, there is love and hope. JoAnn shared the tragic story of losing her son, Pablo and creating a lasting legacy of hope for children with cancer. JoAnn’s  words haunt me, “The experience of starting Pablove has allowed me to always see the light. I am now reminded daily of the love that surrounded me during one of the most difficult times in my life.”

It is people like JoAnn and all the other incredible people we met this year that will inspire me moving forward into 2018. The sources of inspiration are endless, the people awe-inspiring and there are so many others we met this year that I hated not including. My dream for the New Year is to share as many of these heroes as possible with the world. It is obvious to me that we simply need more heroes.  They are all right here, every week, sharing their challenges, journey, humanity and hope for us all. Thank you for subscribing via email to a little soul and inspiration this year, for liking our Facebook page, commenting or sharing a post. It takes a village to spread the word of light, hope, goodness and charity.

Wishing each of you blessings in the New Year filled with love, gratitude and kindness to all.

Charity Matters.

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to share this to inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Hand to hold

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Joseph Campbell

I like to say that I have a front row seat to humanity. I am privileged to meet and share the stories of the most remarkable people and this week’s conversation with Kelli Kelly was so inspiring that I can’t wait to share. Kelli is a real life hero, a woman who went through enormous pain and suffering when her son Jackson was born 16 weeks premature in 2000, weighing a little over a pound. What she did with that experience is a lesson for us all.

Kelli said, “There are defining moments in our lives. Some bring great joy-others sorrow and pain. If we embrace these moments, they can mold us into new and improved versions of ourselves-one that allows us to ignite change, instill hope and find a purpose for our lives we never thought possible.”

In 2000, after the weeks in the NICU (Neo-Natal ICU) Kelli was sad, stressed, traumatized, depressed and emotionally drained not knowing the fate of her newborn son. She said, “The guilt, grief, anguish and pain was overwhelming. Now 17 years later, I can still relate to that defining moment.”  Here are the highlights from our inspiring conversation:

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: “When I realized that 1 out of 8 babies born in the United States is pre-term. We started as a March of Dimes Ambassador family but I realized early on that there were  many organizations to support premature babies but nothing to support the families. I was looking for an organization to help me meet other families going through this same stress, isolation and anxiety and there wasn’t one to help us.

So, at first I gathered some families together at our local hospital and created a program, connecting NICU families but it wasn’t enough. In 2008, we began Hand to Hold to provide families a  peer-to-peer support network for seasoned families of premature babies. We knew we needed to give families ways to survive and navigate their time at the NICU and beyond.”

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work at Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: First and foremost it is remembering what it felt like to be a parent of a child in the NICU and the impact, trauma, ptsd and stress that causes in all areas of your life. Secondly, it is the cards, the emails from the people we touch. We just started a podcast and are now hearing from families all over the world who are grateful we are sharing with them. Most of all, it is a strong faith in those difficult moments that keeps me moving forward.”

Charity Matters: When do you know that your work has made a difference?

I know we are making a difference when organizations like the Preemie Parent Alliance, realize that parents voices need to be a part of this conversation. When we were the keynote speaker at the National Neonatal Nurses Convention or when I’m speaking to national pharmaceutical companies and their employees about what is happening in this space.

We are truly trying to make foundational changes to help families to be better parents and to not only survive but thrive after this experience.

Charity Matters: Tell us a little about your impact and where you are headed next with Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: We know that our impact and reach continues to expand through our national database that connects these families, through our expanding list of health care partners and because we continue to help break down the barriers to reach families going through this experience.

We started a podcast last February and have had over 13,000 downloads in 42 countries. So we know there is a need and that we continue to reach these families. That was the goal to find, connect and support as many families as we can. Our next steps are to begin our work with “Beyond the NICU” with a book and an App to help families navigate the invisible diagnosis that is a factor with preemies. We will be developing a care map to help navigate families through the process of  first all the way through their child’s education.

To end where we began with Kelli’s inspiring words, “There are defining moments in our lives. Some bring great joy-others sorrow and pain. If we embrace these moments, they can mold us into new and improved versions of ourselves-one that allows us to ignite change, instill hope and find a purpose for our lives we never thought possible.”

Kelli is an inspiration to all with her purpose driven life in service of others.

Charity Matters.

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to pass the torch/post and inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

When a hero comes along……

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Joseph Campbell

This week is all about heroes. It is amazing to me that when you Google the word hero, the images that come up are Super Heroes. So often, I think in this crazy world we live in, why are we focusing on the wrong people? Heroes are everywhere and yet know one seems to know who they are.

This week I will be bringing you two very special heroes. The first is Kelli Kelly of the nonprofit Hand to Hold. Kelli shares her journey from being a sad, scared and isolated mother of a premature son to her journey of leading a purpose driven life where she turned her pain into a national organization to help thousands of families affected by pre-term births.

Our second hero is Mary Lu Coughlin of Wellness Works. Mary Lu has given her life in the service of others. First, as a nun but later when she left religious life she continued to heal and serve those affected by HIV/AIDS. When the AIDS crisis slowed down and the war began Mary Lu shifted gears and their nonprofit began serving our Veterans that we will honor this Friday on Veterans Day.

In light of all the chaos, sadness and uncertainty in our world, let’s focus on those amazing people who are serving others and continuing to give their lives to something bigger than themselves. True Heroes.

Charity Matters.

 

Sharing is caring, if you feel moved or inspired, please inspire another…

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.