Some families will celebrate Mother’s Day at home, perhaps playing around on the lawn and making a nice meal for their beloved matriarch. Some might travel to visit grandmothers. Others might even celebrate moms’ special day with a gorgeous afternoon at the ballpark.
Some mothers and new or expanding families, however, will be spending their Mother’s Day this year in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Amy Scott was lucky enough that neither of her two boys required time in the NICU, but she remembers her time in the hospital. In fact, as she walked around the Doerr Family NICU at Columbia St. Mary’s Thursday afternoon, gathering 100 blue tote bags – filled with items of comfort and necessity, like lotions, journals and even quarters for the hospital vending machine – to hand out to mothers in the unit, she even recognized one of the nurses at work.
"She probably doesn’t remember me," Scott noted, "but I remember her."
It can be an intense, lonely time for mothers in the NICU. That’s a part of the reason why Scott and her friend Erin Nevicosi – a mother of two boys herself with a girl currently on the way – created the Grateful Hearts Giving Network. The fledgling charity organization was founded to give people a chance to give back to those in times of need – in this case, those in the NICU – by donating and assembling useful items into gift bags.
"We both have healthy children – a lot of us have healthy children – but it could be any of us having a baby in the NICU," Nevicosi said. "When you’re traveling back and forth, and you’re spending hours upon hours in here, it’s tough. So we put together items to let these families know that other moms are empathizing with them."
The idea for the group came to Scott back around Christmas time in 2012 thanks to a simple Facebook post from Nevicosi, asking what friends and family were doing to give back to others during the holiday season.
"People give to charities around the holidays, but I was just curious, like, should I do more than just write a check," Nevicosi said. "Social media really brought us together. We had known each other for years through social media, and then I posted that thing about charity and (Amy) just took it and ran."
"It was the Facebook post that she wrote, asking what we’re all doing, and I just started thinking about it," Scott said. "I was just giving checks, to St. Jude or the food bank or whatever. But I thought if I could get a bunch of friends together, we could make an even bigger impact than just writing a $100 check. I couldn’t have done this alone, but with everybody together, we could really do something awesome."
"Something awesome" wound up being the Grateful Hearts Giving Network, created by Scott and Nevicosi. For their first event, they gathered 20 friends and family who helped assemble about 20 bags totaling nearly $2,000 for the NICU mothers. The following year's party was even more successful.
This past weekend’s delivery, however, was their greatest success in their young nonprofit’s existence so far. Earlier in the month, Nevicosi and Scott held a kick-off event party which gathered up more than 50 donors and 100 bags of donated items, which they then delivered to the Columbia St. Mary’s NICU Thursday afternoon. The group’s goals, though, are still growing.
"We are so overwhelmed by the donations that we’ve gotten and the response that we hope to make it even bigger in the future: by geographical area and scope," Scott said. "We just hope that a lot of people will want to get involved."
While the Grateful Hearts Giving Network’s current focus is on supporting NICU families, Scott and Nevicosi hope to expand it to similar units across the state, as well as other people in need. The lynchpin of their plan is their upcoming website, which will serve as a communal place for others to take the Grateful Hearts brand and put it into further action.
"The ultimate goal is for people to take this idea, our brand, and use it for their own parties and purposes, benefiting their own hospitals," Nevicosi said.
"We’d love to have our website eventually be just filled with other people having these parties with our bags, connecting with each other, sharing their gratitude and giving it back," Scott added.
Nevicosi predicted that the site will be up in a couple of months, fall by the latest. For the time being, however, the nonprofit uses its Facebook page to set up future bag collection parties and keep those interested involved.
It’s a growing organization, but for now, Scott and Nevicosi are happy right now bringing a little extra Mother’s Day cheer to moms in need.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Dec. 20, 2014
With its brand of rock music uncoils, cracks and unleashes in sharp, aggressive, raw fashion with a swift dash of sex appeal, Whips is an remarkably appropriate name for the Milwaukee-based rock foursome. And now the quartet has a new LP, "Turn It On," arriving Saturday night at a record release show at the Cactus Club.
Published Dec. 19, 2014
"The Interview" was canceled this past week amongst hack attacks and terrorist threats. It doesn't matter that this happened to THIS particular movie. What matters is what this means for ALL movies. And what this moment represents is a terrible precedent for the future of film and art altogether.
Published Dec. 17, 2014
When I arrived to interview Harlem Globetrotter Sweet J Ekworomadu - the 12th female player in the team's 89-year history - in advance of their traditional New Year's Eve game at the BC, I was asked if I wanted to play a game of horse with Sweet J. Considering I hadn't shot a basketball since probably middle school, I couldn't turn down the opportunity fast enough. I was, however, able to ask some one-on-one questions with Ekworomadu.
Published Dec. 16, 2014
The story behind "It's a Wonderful Life" is now almost as well-known as the story of George Bailey himself. The movie performed below expectations back in 1946, but several decades later, as the movie made its way into the public domain, "It's a Wonderful Life" grew into a holiday classic. Now there's many renditions of the story, including a staged radio show version - complete with old school sound effects - coming to the Marcus Center.
Published Dec. 15, 2014
Fans have been routinely left waiting for a Chris Rock movie that truly plays up to the standard of Chris Rock. Luckily, the wait is over with the arrival of "Top Five," a loose-limbed comedy about celebrity that feels like a movie worthy of its star - in both its voice and its significant supply of laughs.
Published Dec. 12, 2014
2014 is coming to a close, which means it's time to put my first full calendar year as an official working, adult member of society in the books (well, jury's still out on the adult part). Here are some of the most memorable moments - both good and bad - from a most memorable year.
Published Dec. 10, 2014
Luckily, what's currently housed and featured at the Racine Art Museum is just as interesting and compelling as the building itself: an expansive two-part exhibition called "in(Organic)," a compilation of art works that combine the natural and unnatural - in terms of thematic meaning and artistic medium - in ways both beautiful and often unnerving.
Published Dec. 9, 2014
What doesn't kill you supposedly makes you stronger. In the case of the sneakily incisive new Swedish dark comedy "Force Majeure," however, what doesn't kill you reveals your deepest faults to all of your loved ones. And they are not impressed.
Published Dec. 8, 2014
2014 was the year of the selfie. In the beginning of the year, there was the great Oscars selfie, a photo that literally broke Twitter for a few seconds. The word existed before, but after that, suddenly news stations and outlets were attempting to cram it into every headline (similar to "twerk" in 2013) and everybody was getting on board with the word. A part of that selfie insanity was the irony-drenched EDM hit "#Selfie" from The Chainsmokers.
Published Dec. 7, 2014
When it comes to the classic story of "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge has always been the star. But just as important to the story are the Cratchits, who embody the Christmas spirit and the human spirit so essential to Dickens's fable. For the past few years, the two characters have been played in the Milwaukee Rep's annual production by the same two Milwaukee actors: Jonathan Wainwright and Marti Gobel.