Family Life, Pregnancy & Baby

Saul’s Light

In 2015, Kimberly and Aaron Novod experienced the tragic loss of their son, Saul, who passed away at 20 days old in a New Orleans Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  “I will always remember seeing him for the very first time,” says Kimberly. “The wonder of him. His beautiful face. His tiny hands. His nose that looked just like mine. We named him Saul which means ‘prayed for.’” Today, Saul’s Light shines brightly, offering support and solace to families navigating the tumultuous journey of having a baby in the NICU or experiencing the heartbreaking loss of an infant. 

“Our mission is to meet families on their unique social-emotional journeys,” explains Sophia Rosenblatt, the Director of Programs and Partnerships. “We don’t want any family to ever feel alone. We want families to feel supported while they’re visiting their baby in the NICU and to know they have someone to talk to.”

In short, Saul’s Light aims to eliminate barriers that prevent parents from being bedside with their babies, offering financial assistance for transportation, housing, and emergency expenses, alongside emotional support and counseling. 

Comprehensive Support

The organization’s programs are thoughtfully designed to address the multifaceted needs of NICU and grieving families. The NICU support branch provides critical financial aid to cover non-medical expenses, from car seats to emergency bills. Additionally, Saul’s Light offers peer mentorship, pairing families with trained volunteers who share similar experiences, ensuring a personalized and empathetic support system. 

Recognizing the language barriers many families face, Saul’s Light has a dedicated Spanish language program, complete with counseling sessions and support groups facilitated by a bilingual social worker. This inclusivity ensures that no family is left without the resources they need due to language differences.

“We know there isn’t one catch-all solution for all families. We know that everybody is different, and their needs are different,” Rosenblatt shares. “We want to try our best to be able to really see where the families are coming from and meet those needs.”

For those bereaved families, Saul’s Light provides tools to help parents honor their baby’s memory and navigate their grief. This includes CuddleCots, which allow families to spend more time with their deceased infants, and angel gowns, crafted from donated wedding dresses for infant burials. The organization also connects families to mental health services, spirituality and wellness classes, and community events, fostering an environment of healing and support.

Innovative Programming

One of the standout initiatives of Saul’s Light is its emphasis on early literacy and parent-child bonding through its Little Libraries program. It has established these libraries in NICUs around New Orleans while accepting quarterly donations of new, unused books. Families can borrow books during their stay, or bring them home to start building their own collection. 

Community engagement is also a cornerstone of Saul’s Light operations. Donations are crucial, but they also value the contributions of volunteers, whether it’s packing care packages or knitting hats for NICU babies. Saul’s Light encourages community members to get involved through various drives and volunteer opportunities, reinforcing the spirit of communal care and support. 

Looking Ahead

As Saul’s Light continues to flourish, exciting developments are on the horizon. On September 19, 2024, they will once again host their annual NICU Health and Equity Summit at Children’s Hospital. This event will unite different community organizations, health providers, and families for an educational journey on NICU-related issues. Rosenblatt also adds that they’re working on establishing a sanctuary in town for families to stay at while their babies are in the NICU, which is set to launch next year.

Advocacy will remain a key component of Saul’s Light’s mission. This includes continuing to focus on emergency preparedness for families with NICU babies, ensuring all aspects of their well-being are covered. So far, the organization has achieved great legislative success as well, such as the Stillbirth Tax Credit, which provides a $2,000 income tax credit to families of stillborn babies, and other bills ensuring access to donor milk for NICU babies covered by Medicaid or private insurance. 

A Call to Action

Saul’s Light invites the New Orleans community to join their mission. Whether through financial donations, volunteer work, or simply spreading awareness, every bit of support helps illuminate the path for families facing one of the most challenging times in their lives. As Rosenblatt poignantly states, “It’s so important for community members to know that we’re taking care of one another,” because no family should ever feel alone in their NICU journey.

“This foundation is Saul’s legacy,” says Kimberly Novod. “We have only been able to move forward because of the amazing support we received during and after Saul’s life from our families, friends, and community.”

For more information, visit, and follow them on social media (@sauls_light) to learn how to get involved. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of these families, one small act of kindness at a time. 


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This article was originally published in July 2024.

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