PALO ALTO, Calif. 3/11/2010 11:16 AM GMT (TransWorldNews)
More than anything, Nick Hall wanted to do something.
Because after all, men are supposed to take charge – to fix things, protect their families. But it was all out of his hands.
His wife Jennifer’s health was fragile after delivering their twins, Graham and Reece, 15 weeks early. The tiny infants were in the neonatal intensive care unit, hooked up to tubes, wires and machines, as Nick shuttled between his wife and children. After a valiant fight, Graham died on Jan. 7, 2007, 45 days after his birth.
“For dads, it’s particularly difficult because there isn’t really anything you can do,” Nick Hall says of the experience. “You can’t fix it or make the problem go away. It’s totally in the hands of the doctors and nurses.”
Over the next two years, as they worked through their grief and cared for their daughter, Nick and Jenn Hall realized there was something they could do – in memory of their son, for other parents who faced similar situations.
The Halls created Graham’s Foundation. Its mission: to distribute carefully stocked care packages to parents who are in the first few days of life with premature babies – parents who, caught up in a cataclysm of experience, emotions and decisions, often forget to take care of themselves.
The packages are bounteous: snacks and beverages from major organic, health-conscious brands, boutique personal care products and preemie clothes, maid service coupons, and hand-prepared gourmet, flash-frozen meals from MagicKitchen.com.
Care package requests come from parents themselves, and often from extended family members, who want to help but don’t know how. “It’s almost as if they’re saying, ‘we’re not really sure what to do, but we trust that since you’ve been in the exact same position, getting something from you is helpful.’ ”
Now, about one year after its founding in February 2009, Graham’s Foundation has shipped more than 350 care packages to families all over the United States, Canada, and a military base overseas.
Hall knows the demand is much greater than that. Of the half million premature births in the United States annually, 10 percent are considered severely premature, or micro-preemie – under 29 weeks and three pounds birth weight. Graham’s Foundation is able to work directly with only a handful of the hundreds of advanced level NICUs in the United States.
“I’d like to be shipping out 1,000 or more care packages a month,” Hall says. “There’s way more need out there.”
Besides brand-new parents of micro-preemies, there’s likely unmet need for ongoing support once they get home from the intensive care unit. He’d like to see packages continue as parents settle into their new roles. “For a lot of parents, that’s when the hardest work begins,” he says.
Besides donations of products, the foundation relies on gifts of individuals and corporations to provide shipping and logistics support. It also gets such in-kind corporate donations as online marketing services from BlitzLocal. Sales of hand-crafted jewelry and polished alumnimum bracelet bearing the motto
“Hope, Reslience, Miracles” also support the foundation.
Donations are welcomed at the foundation's website and at its mailing address, Graham's Foundation, 3142 Riverwood Court, Perrysburg, OH 43551.