In 2023, ICU baby welcomed six new volunteers to join our seasoned and skilled NICU Mentor team. Our new Mentors bring with them different perspectives and experiences that all come from their individual NICU journeys. We are learning from Barbara what it meant to be met by ICU baby at just the right time to hold onto hope. From Jordana, the power of a consistent and steadfast ICU baby Mentor to get through the tough days in the NICU. And from Charlotte, a reminder of what the experience in the NICU was like before ICU baby.
Our NICU Mentors provide care at the highest level of volunteerism. In addition to having the lived experience, they have completed at least seven hours of classroom based training in NICU support, grief and loss, confidentiality, implicit bias and social determinants of health, and program and resource implementation as well as a background check prior to providing mentorship to families. They also receive hands-on training on the phone and on the NICU floor. Our Mentors that support families bedside at one or more of our hospitals must also complete each hospitals’ extensive volunteer onboarding process. The Mentors also participate in monthly training huddles that provide a space to process their own experiences, learn from each other, and hear from a local agency or organization that provides services that our families could benefit from.
Each mentor is supporting families anywhere from 1-5 hours per week, every week, year round. These highly skilled and professional volunteer NICU mentors provide emotional support, validation, connection, and guidance for their families enduring really difficult and often traumatic times. They also advocate for their families within the hospital and out in the community.
As our Mentors are coming more and more from the hospitals we provide programming in, the value of the relationships that are generated in the NICU is further reinforced. These new Mentors have experienced ICU baby programming directly and intimately. They have lived through the NICU with ICU baby’s support. They have come back to continue to uphold hope and provide loving and compassionate support to current and future families in the NICU.
As we bring more of our programs into new hospitals across South Florida we will continue to grow our Mentor team to meet the needs of NICU families. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities we offer please click here.