If springtime plans in your family include creating Easter gift baskets, wouldn’t it be nice to get one already stuffed and fabulous, and give a fragile newborn a helping hand at the same time? On April 17, Nurses for Newborns Foundation hosts A Night for Newborns, the organization’s 13th annual dinner auction featuring the ‘famous’ baskets. “Last year we had one room filled with just baskets, and we expect this year to be the same. They really are amazing—volunteer Patty Ackerman and her team work on them all year!” says foundation CEO Melinda Ohlemiller. “This year we are especially excited, because the auction is the weekend before Easter, so parents and grandparents can go home with a ready-made basket of goodies. There’s something for everyone.”
Founded in 1991 by Sharon Rohrbach, Nurses for Newborns Foundation provides services to at-risk newborns and their families.
“The best way to describe us? We serve families who have something that’s making them struggle in those early days with a newborn,” Ohlemiller explains. “Our goal is to keep that baby healthy, and keep mom and caregivers functioning.” The Foundation nurses help teen moms, mothers struggling with health issues of their own, and families who cannot afford even the most basic necessities. “We serve families dealing with all kinds of difficulties, but we are best known for our work with babies coming out of intensive care nurseries. It is very frightening to bring a baby home from intensive care, after you’ve had 24-hour care and nurses. Then you go home and it’s just the family and the baby. It’s an enormous responsibility.” In addition to providing healthcare for the baby and mother, the nurses offer education for the family. “They learn CPR, they learn how to tell if the baby is well or ill, or needs to go to the hospital. They are connected with a pediatrician, and the nurse makes sure the baby’s shots are up-to-date and appointments are kept. These are things many of us take for granted, but can become overwhelming for a family bringing a baby home from the hospital who’s been very ill and clinging to life.”
This year’s dinner auction, presented by Charter Communications, is co-chaired by Barbara Druhe Fran Marks and Gloria Wind. The evening also includes a raffle for an 18-karat white-gold diamond and pink sapphire ring, donated by jeweler David Kodner. Auction items include in-home parties with guest chefs from local country clubs and a Florida vacation.
Ohlemiller says this will be the debut for auctioneer Dean Wilson and his son. “They did a home visit with one of our nurses and they were so intrigued by our work. It’s great to have auctioneers who are motivated, because their enthusiasm is contagious!” The evening is an opportunity for the Foundation to honor those who have helped their mission, including board president Nanci Bobrow, and longtime supporters Suzanne and Tom Hough. “The McGraw Millhaven Humanitarian Award, established last year, will be presented to the Ashley Furniture Phillips family. They have been such good friends to our organization and care passionately about our work,” Ohlemiller says.
This year’s invitation features pastel butterflies, the theme of the evening. “It’s symbolic of our mission,” explains Ohlemiller. “Sometimes moms and babies just need to stay in that cocoon, with the warmth and support of our nurses. Every day we help families that others might have given up on. We watch them grow and fly on their own beautiful wings.”