By Kelly Youngblood
Helping families through the difficult NICU journey is the mission of a new non-profit organization in Champaign-Urbana.
Paige Raab, along with a handful of other volunteers, have started The Nest Postpartum, offering both tangible and emotional support for NICU families at Carle Hospital in Urbana.
The Nest’s mission is to provide free services for families at the Carle NICU, including reliable transportation, childcare for siblings, and resources to cover costs of lodging and food.
In the last month since officially opening, The Nest has provided 39 prepared meals, six nights stay at a local hotel, 27 gas gift cards, 22 restaurant gift cards and nine days of childcare for NICU families.
Most of the volunteers have personally experienced the struggles of having a newborn in the NICU and wanted to find a way to help others in similar circumstances.
“We’re all just mutually motivated by our desire to want to help support these families and for these families to not feel the sense of isolation that we felt when our kids were in the NICU,” Raab said.
Raab, a mother of two sons that required a NICU stay and a pediatric physical therapist, says the launching of The Nest is a dream come true for her.
“This has been a dream and a vision for so long and now it’s actually here so we’ve really been enjoying making connections with our families,” Raab said.
The Nest care coordinators, most of whom had a past NICU experience, provide emotional support as well. While care coordinators are not licenced counselors they are trauma trained and can help connect families with counseling resources if needed.
“We reach out, make that connection with families and every single week we are checking in just to be that consistent emotional support for families, just somebody that has been through a similar situation,” Raab said.
The Nest is currently able to work with four families at a time. Carle NICU social workers refer families in the most need of support. With more funding, Raab hopes to be able to support more families in the future.
All services are free of charge. Support could look like a public transportation voucher, restaurant or gas card, child care arrangements made through Carle’s Caring Place, or hotel lodging if Carle’s Auxiliary Guest House has no availability.
Raab admits starting this non-profit has required a lot of work, but it’s important work and they are up for the challenge.
“Since we started, I’ve just really reflected a lot back on my NICU stay and the thing that keeps coming up for me is that I wish that I had somebody that said, ‘Listen, this is hard, I’ve been through a version of this, you’re going to get through it, I’m here for you, we’re going to get through this together,’” Raab said. “So that’s the type of support that we’re hoping to provide and just bringing a sense of calm to the families because being in the NICU can be such an isolating time.”
If you’d like to help The Nest’s cause, either through funding or volunteer service, email firstname.lastname@example.org