I’d like to introduce you to Amanda, who I am grateful to know. I discovered Little Giraffe Foundation six years ago when I was searching for support after spending time in the NICU with my son. Three years later after experiencing another premature birth and special care nursery stay, I wanted to become more involved with Little Giraffe Foundation. I’m excited to share Amanda’s interview with you so you can learn more about her and her foundation helping local families in our area.
Where are you from and what is your connection to the Libertyville area?
I grew up in Park Ridge and currently reside in Mount Prospect. However, I have worked in the Libertyville area since 2007 and in 2017 began supporting families with babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) / Special Care Nursery at Advocate Condell Medical Center and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital through the non-profit organization I co-founded, Little Giraffe Foundation.
Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)
I have 2 boys, Nathan (9) and Evan (7) and a little girl, Addison (2).
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor or in the corporate world? Please share!
My husband, Mike, and I started the non-profit organization, Little Giraffe Foundation, in 2011 after our twins were born prematurely at 25 weeks at 1 pound each. After losing our daughter at 6 weeks and having experienced the fear and trauma of the NICU, we wanted to make life better for other families going through similar experiences. Therefore, the missions of the organization are to provide gifts of support to families with babies born prematurely and to also fund neonatal research. We are proud to regularly serve babies in the NICU and special care nurseries at 17 Chicagoland-area hospitals, including recently expanding our reach to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest in 2017!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a complete introvert and never imagined that I would be leading an organization that impacts and helps thousands of families each year! I am constantly amazed to see the twists and turns that life compels you to travel down and feel so enriched and grateful to be a part of so many communities through the families in the NICU’s and special care nurseries.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another Mom?
Live in the moment and enjoy the moments while they last. I often found myself cleaning the house when I should have been crawling on the floor racing Matchbox cars with my boys when they were younger. Some of the best moments I spent with my boys were after bath time when we would lay on their bedroom floor and I would listen to their little minds racing with ideas, “what ifs” and grand plans for the future! Now that I have my young daughter I am reminded once again to slow down and enjoy the little moments that I now know first-hand are fleeting!
What is next for you?
As we look to continue to expand the reach of our organization to even more hospitals in the area, I am excited to connect with moms and families interested in getting involved with Little Giraffe Foundation and our efforts to improve the life of NICU babies and support their families! Please feel free to reach out through our website (www.littlegiraffefoundation.org) or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LittleGiraffeFoundation).
I hope you enjoyed reading about Amanda and her important mission! I have enjoyed supporting her work through the Amazon wishlist purchasing books and toys for the holiday gift bags. This past summer, my husband and I loved attending the Cubs Rooftop Benefit for LGF and participating in the silent auction. We are also involved by delivering the holiday gift bags to Advocate Condell and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospitals. LGF also has numerous events throughout the year to secure the resources to support medical research. In addition to attending these fun events, other ways to get involved are by hosting events, organizing a book drive and spreading the word. These efforts support the holiday gift bags delivered locally, and the neonatal research grants and NICU support grants for hospitals across the country. The research grants help improve the quality of life in the NICU, improve survival rates, and ensure greater quality of life for those babies once they leave the NICU. The support grants provide funds for everything from rocking chairs to small gifts for families.
As the proud and grateful Mom of two babies born premature, I know first hand what it feels like to care for a baby in the hospital room versus the comfort of home. Reading to my babies helped to bond us and provide a sense of normalcy. Research shows that reading to premature babies helps their brain development and language skills. The book that LGF provides is not just a book, but rather a gift to bond the parent and baby, help them develop and know that they are not alone (especially on holidays). I am grateful for the care we received and for organizations like Little Giraffe Foundation that supports the medical research, families, and the hospitals who care for them. Thank you, Amanda!!!