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Thrivent Action Team Brings Food for the Soul to NICU

Like any new parents, Thrivent member Joel Fogarty and his wife, Ashley, couldn’t wait to bring their daughter home from the hospital. Sadly, numerous life-threatening health issues required baby Peyton to have several surgeries, intensive physical therapy and a long stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

At first, Joel and Ashley were surprised at how grave and isolated the NICU felt. Even though all of the other parents were dealing with similar situations, they didn’t interact with one another or lean on each other for support.

“It’s clear that those families are going through hard times, but so are we,” Joel says. “We all want to take our babies home, but can’t. Instead of separating ourselves from each other, we needed to see our struggles as something we had in common.”

That’s why the Fogartys decided to lead a Thrivent Action Team. The team held a Father’s Day luncheon for the NICU parents in the hospital’s family waiting room and used the seed money to cater in food. While the families enjoyed the meal, the camaraderie they experienced was truly food for the soul. The luncheon gave them the chance to share stories about their kids and discuss topics related to their children’s NICU stays.

“Things changed after the Father’s Day lunch,” says Joel. “People wave and say hi to each other in the halls now. The NICU just has a better feel to it.”

The success of the Father’s Day luncheon inspired the hospital to organize a biweekly lunch program for NICU families. A guest speaker gives advice on what hospitalized babies need from their parents. Families also learn what’s to be expected once a child is discharged and ready to go home.

After six months of visiting Peyton in the hospital, the Fogartys are thrilled to see a positive change in the NICU environment.

“We can’t thank Thrivent Action Teams enough for their help,” Joel says. “We’re so appreciative of the opportunity the team gave us to all open up and talk.” 

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