As Graham’s Foundation grows, so too does our need for dedicated team members who can help us reach as many parents of preemies as possible. Part of how we connect with more NICUs and more preemie parents is through our NICU Ambassador program. Our NICU Ambassadors act as our representatives in NICUs across the country so we have a presence and our organization feels more real to NICU directors and staff. We’re pleased to say that the NICU Ambassador program has grown to the point at which we needed help to coordinate the details, and that’s why we’re so happy to announce that Laura Martin has joined Graham’s Foundation as our new NICU Ambassador Director!
Like many of our team members, Laura is a preemie mom herself. Her twin boys were born at 24 weeks gestation – Campbell passed away after 23 days of life and Joseph spent 228 days in the NICU before coming home. Laura graciously offered to be interviewed in our blog so our supporters can get to know the newest member of our team.
How did you become involved with Graham’s Foundation?
During our time in the NICU, I developed a passion for helping parents who were going through the same thing we were going through. I loved talking with others families in the NICU. When Joseph came home, my passion grew for giving back to the two NICUs where my son spent time. This position with Graham’s Foundation allows me to live my passion of giving back and helping parents of preemies. I am currently trying to bring Graham’s Foundation to the second NICU where my son spent time because there is already an Ambassador for the NICU where he was born.
What drew you to the NICU Ambassador program?
I found Graham’s Foundation while we were in the NICU, and I was a quiet “lurker” of their website and Facebook page. I loved seeing what other parents would write and their comments, concern, and encouragement for each other. I loved – and still love – reading the incredible articles they would post. I knew this was a great organization and I only hoped that one day I could be a part of the team. When I saw the NICU Ambassador Director position posted at the end of last year, I took a leap of faith and submitted my application. I am beyond thrilled to be a part of this incredible team of people.
How did you change the NICU Ambassador program?
The scope of the program is not changing – the Ambassadors are still serving as liaisons between Graham’s Foundation and their NICUs. The overarching goal is to see growth in this program, so my plan is to increase the number of Ambassadors we have. We currently have 57 people who have completed the application to become ambassadors, but not all of those have followed through or are active. I want to connect with all of the people who have filled out the application so we can provide the support they need to become or continue serving as NICU Ambassadors.
A secondary goal is to help our Ambassadors encourage their respective NICUs to participate in the Pampers Gifts to Grow program. This is an area where I would love to see growth. Other goals include setting up twice monthly optional phone calls with the Ambassadors so they can offer and receive support, give each other encouragement, and offer suggestions to other Ambassadors; increasing the number of NICUs participating in the Power to Grow events (formerly the Micro-Tinis for Micro-Preemies); encouraging Ambassadors to make sure families are receiving care packages; and creating a system of feedback collection so Ambassadors can help us figure out what works and doesn’t in our care packages.
Why should parents of preemies sign up to become Ambassadors?
I think many parents who go through the trials of a NICU stay come out of that experience wanting to give back to other parents currently coping with life in the NICU. It is an experience that many are not able to relate to. Being a NICU Ambassador for Graham’s Foundation is a great way for a parent of a preemie to be able to give back to those in the NICU – specifically the NICUs where they, their families, and their children spent time.
If you are interested in becoming an ambassador to your local NICU, please visit our website for more information and to apply!