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 Sept. 19, 2014
It's been a turbulent few years for Aaron Freeman, more commonly known as Gene Ween from the band Ween. After much self-repair, however, the musician is himself again - literally - recording and performing as the lead in his new band, fittingly titled Freeman. The band has a new album, along with a tour stopping at Turner Hall Ballroom. Before then, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with Freeman about the road to recovery, music and himself.
Published Sept. 18, 2014
Character actor David Eigenberg is likely best known for spending multiple seasons and two movies romancing Cynthia Nixon's Miranda Hobbes on the iconic HBO TV show "Sex and the City." Eigenberg's latest television project nowadays, however, is far from high fashion and high living in New York City. Instead of a fiery redhead, Eigenberg now co-stars with actual flames on NBC's "Chicago Fire."
Published Sept. 17, 2014
In 2010, Mark Clements arrived in Milwaukee and, in his first act as artistic director, brought something to the Milwaukee Rep's main stage that oddly it had never seen in its impressive history: a musical. Several years later, Clements has made it a bit of a tradition to feature a musical in the Rep's main house schedule. 2014 is no different and the Powerhouse opens up with "The Color Purple."
Published Sept. 15, 2014
The title of The War on Drugs' latest album is "Lost in the Dream," fitting for a record - and a moment in time - that utterly enveloped front man Adam Granduciel. The band is now taking the final product on the road, including a stop at The Pabst Theater on Sunday, Sept. 21. Before then, Granduciel chatted with OnMilwaukee.com about becoming a real band on the road, the process behind the album and the inner battles that went into it.
Published Sept. 14, 2014
It's hard to imagine there was much clamoring for a sequel to "Dolphin Tale." The first film was a modest early fall success back in 2011, but even then, the story of Winter the dolphin was already fairly thin dramatic material, serving as little more than a nice pleasant aside. Still, somebody thought it was a good idea to head back to the well, and surprisingly - judging from "Dolphin Tale 2" - that person wasn't wrong.
Published Sept. 12, 2014
The Brewers are desperately trying to pull themselves out of a devastating tailspin. Even when they win, they seem to lose - as evidenced by last night's Giancarlo Stanton debacle. Sounds like a good time to get baseball's favorite canine Hank the Dog back in the spotlight!
Published Sept. 10, 2014
The country-tinged rock duo of Phil Leavitt and Joie Calio worked together for years in the band Dada. 7Horse, however, marks a fairly new project for the guys. And there are certainly worse things to put on an early band's resume than being associated with an Oscar-nominated Scorsese film. OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with Leavitt about the band's origins, its Milwaukee connection and getting the rare Scorsese Stamp of Approval.
Published Sept. 9, 2014
For fans of the late '90s, names like the Sugar Ray, "TRL," Surge and Chris Gaines will sound very familiar (OK, maybe not that last one). For local music fans around in the era, another name might sound a little familiar: The Buzzhorn.
Published Sept. 8, 2014
The good news? As with every year, the lineup of movies are the Milwaukee Film Festival is overflowing with terrific options. The bad news? Unfortunately, save for some kind of planetary revolution halt, divine intervention or new time machine development, there are only so many hours in the day. So here are some picks for the film festival selections you should definitely make the time to see.
Published Sept. 5, 2014
After slowly teasing its complete lineup for the past several weeks, the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival finally revealed the entire cinematic buffet it's assembled for film fans - both hardcore and casual - this morning. And my friends, it looks absolutely delicious.