Family Life, Shopping & Services

Spotlight: Delivering Hope NOLA

Parents whose babies stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) understand that there is nothing more devastating than going home without your baby. Visiting these fragile newborns entails hands constantly wet and sticky with sanitizer, difficult questions from worried siblings, and the fear of the unknown. Much of the time, having a baby in the NICU is unexpected and parents are not prepared. This is why Delivering Hope NOLA was formed by a group of six NICU moms who wanted to support others who are in the same situation they once were.

Erin DeZinno, a teacher at St. Mary Magdalene and a mother of three boys who were all in the NICU, is one member of Delivering Hope NOLA who has seen the organization step up to support families of NICU babies during their darkest days. Their mission is “to provide hope and encouragement to the families of infants and children receiving critical care through a variety of supportive services.”

“We started by delivering one care package to East Jefferson Hospital’s NICU during Christmas time. The next year, we decided we were going to do it during Parents of Preemies Month in May. By then, we had all become very good friends and we decided that we needed to do more for all the other hospitals,” explains DeZinno.

Today, they spread hope from the Northshore to the East Bank, delivering over 200 care packages to every New Orleans hospital possible. Today, the organization hopes that they will grow to a point where families will hear about them and be able to request supplies as soon as they are admitted.

Some babies are only in the NICU for a short while, but others can be in the unit’s care for months on end, which is why care packages are so important. They include items that aid in bonding and care for the parents and siblings like snacks, pens and notebooks to take notes, crossword books, comfy socks and blankets, and preemie-sized clothes. One of the most important items in the care package are children’s books.

“Doctors say one of the easiest ways to connect with your baby and let them know you’re there is to talk with them. It’s hard to start a conversation as a mom who’s looking at her baby and can’t touch them. They’ve got all these wires on them and the last thing you want to do is hurt them. So we give them a children’s book so they can sit and read to them. Just having that dialogue helps start that bond that’s severed during the rush of going into the NICU,” explains DeZinno.

Along with care packages, having someone to talk to is equally as important. Oftentimes, infants and children in the NICU will need certain procedures done immediately with no forewarning. This can be scary to parents just entering the NICU who maybe don’t know anyone else who has experienced this. Delivering Hope NOLA wants these moms and dads to be able to find and talk with others who have had the same procedures done.

Of course, everything grinded to a halt during the pandemic due to the nature of the NICU. Wary of harming some of the most vulnerable patients of these hospitals, Delivering Hope NOLA only just got back into the swing of things late last year.

“We just got back to our regular deliveries in December. We had everyone all masked up, gloved, and doing our packages. This month, we’re going to do another full care package for our 200 deliveries. A big thing that’s changed recently is that we haven’t gotten any individual calls for packages,” shares DeZinno.

Delivering Hope NOLA has made a sizable impact on the lives of those who feel powerless to help their baby and themselves. There are plenty of ways for you to support this nonprofit as they get back to their full-scale operations. Since gathering up supplies for those care packages is difficult and expensive, your donations of care package items are always deeply appreciated. Stay in touch on their social media, or tune in to the website for future ways to be a shining light in your community by helping families in need.


By Sarah Batrous

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