"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
It's hard to believe that it's been 18 months since Sadie's Purpose was incorporated. In that time we've held 2 successful fundraisers, received countless monetary, in-kind, and wishlist donations, and raised awareness for NICU families everywhere. It's no small feat, and it's something I'm quite proud of.
And last month, on August 12th, I made one of my biggest dreams a reality when we walked through the doors of The University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital with 150 family support packs. One hundred parent packs and fifty sibling packs, all with the same goal- to brighten the hospital stay for NICU families.
Creating Our Packs
Lots of work goes into assembling a family support pack. Each pack is carefully and lovingly filled with all the good things we include. The last thing I include is a letter from me to new NICU parents. I feel like it's so important to tell them that I have been where they are, and that they are seen and supported. Once the bags are filled, they are put into totes (for storage purposes in the NICU) to be delivered.
If you missed our post on what we include in our support packs, here is a quick overview of some what we provide for NICU families:
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Pens and notebooks
Hair ties and hairbrushes
Small, quiet toys
Coloring books and crayons
We provide parents with the essentials that they'll need during their NICU stay. We want siblings to feel included as well, and we know how hard it can be to occupy a child in a hospital room. So our sibling packs include quiet and fun ways to keep them busy.
As you can see in the video clip to the left, support pack assembly is quite the job. I refer to it as "organized chaos." 😊
It is truly a labor of love, however. And I know that with each item I put into each bag, a NICU parent will feel a little less burdened. And that's totally worth it.
Putting It All Together- Literally
Over the course of a few weeks, I carefully assembled each of our bags. From packing hair ties bought in bulk into small zipper bags to putting positive affirmation cards in brightly colored envelopes to carefully counting out toiletries, I wanted every detail to be perfect.
In the pictures below, you can see the supply bunker I built around myself on the right. That was the beginning of my assembly line! On the left is the stack of 100 finished parent packs, and in the middle is the stack of 50 completed sibling packs. It was a wonderful feeling stepping back to take these pictures!
On delivery day, the entire family was excited. Even the kiddos were happy to be a part of something they knew mattered so much. My husband and I got the bags packed into totes, and we loaded them into the truck and headed for the hospital.
As you can see in the picture, I underestimated the number of totes we would need. I purchased six and we could have used 10. I used large, sturdy boxes for the rest.
Growing pains, am I right? 😂 I love the "first time" doing things like this, because you learn all the things you should have done, and the things you won't do again.
All The Emotions
You never truly know how you'll feel in any given situation until you're experiencing it. Delivering our first support packs was no different for me. I have not been in a children's hospital since Sadie died, and while this hospital was not the NICU Sadie was in for so long, my family still has ties to it as our son spent some time there, and so did our niece and nephew.
I couldn't say how I would handle it when we walked through those doors. Or when we smelled the familiar hospital smells that can be such a trigger. Luckily, we met the NICU Director and the Parent Educator in the lobby of the hospital.
I knew I would need to share our story. People want to know why I do what I do and how Sadie's Purpose was born. There was a time when no one outside my family knew about Sadie or knew our story, but I knew when I started this journey that I would need to be able to share about her.
It hasn't always been easy, but I've met some amazing ladies who have gone through similar things and I've found the courage to get through my own story without breaking down.
As I told my story, I touched my special Sadie Necklace (a gift from my husband the year we lost her) that has her name and the words "I'll see you in paradise" engraved on it, along with 2 tiny footprints and her birthstone. And I knew I would be okay. She was with me and she was proud.
My little girl deserved much more than what she got in life, and I will spend the rest of my life honoring hers and making sure she is never forgotten. Families will get the support they need in the NICU in her honor. And that makes me pretty darn proud.
Now that our first delivery has been made, we will look ahead to the next. We'll take the feedback we receive from the hospital and the parents and adjust what we provide to ensure our parents are receiving exactly what they need to help them. We'll meet with more NICU directors and see if our program is the right fit for them. We will keep showing up for NICU families.
We'll keep planning our fundraisers (our 2nd annual holiday auction is just around the corner) and we'll partner with more amazing organizations like Give A Mile and See Me Grow Mat to offer their wonderful products and services to our families.
We'll continue to speak with potential corporate donors and sponsors and share our mission with people everywhere because we believe in the power we ALL have to help families through the worst moments in their lives. Together, we can! And we are so grateful to all of you for being a part of it. We can't wait to see where we go next!