After a yearlong postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a shift to an all-virtual setup, Yale School of Nursing’s (YSN) annual Newborns in Need initiative raised more than $3,000 from dozens of donors to provide new babies with welcome kits that include diapers, wipes, and board books. The total includes gifts from 2020 and 2021.
Sites accepting donations this year include Yale’s Pediatric Primary Care Center, Yale School of Medicine, Yale New Haven Hospital, and the Cornell Scott Health Center. The majority of the parents who will be receiving the donations are either on Medicaid or eligible for the program.
“Even though we couldn’t gather in person for this event for the past two years due to the pandemic, I am so proud of how the YSN alumni community rallied to support Newborns in Need in a new format this year,” said YSN Alumni Association (YSNAA) President and planning committee member Christa Hartch ’02 MSN, RN. “And I think people beyond YSN graduates are inspired to make a gift because they know these kits make a difference right away.”
Marisa Andres of Arlington, VA, made a heartfelt online donation after reading about Newborns in Need on social media.
“I saw a post about the program on the Yale School of Nursing Instagram page, which I follow because my sister works there,” Andres said. “When I saw the post, I immediately thought about my nephew, who was born a few months before the pandemic, and how he used up to 16 diapers a day. I couldn’t bear thinking about the families who couldn’t afford that, so I knew I had to contribute to the cause.”
The campaign’s success was assisted by several cosponsors: Future Leaders of Yale (FLY), the Yale Child Study Center, Yale Pediatrics, Yale Latino Networking Group (YLNG), Working Women’s Network (WWN), and Yale Women of Connecticut.
The Yale Child Study Center is donating more than 100 board books and aims to provide options other than English based on a survey of area clinics to learn which languages are spoken by clients. Yale Pediatrics is contributing gift cards that can be used for Newborns in Need purchases. All the cosponsors donated time and marketing efforts as well.
Marinda Monfilston, Co-Chair of the FLY Community Outreach and Civic Engagement Committee, said she appreciated the opportunity to expand FLY’s assistance to local families.
“Given the pandemic, and specifically its impact on women of color and parents, [the need for] support for basic needs is even greater in our communities, and FLY is committed to helping wherever and however we can, as we are stronger together,” Monfilston said. “Newborns in Need continues to be a wildly successful and critical initiative, and FLY is happy to be able to collaborate under the Yale School of Nursing’s leadership and passion.”
History and Future of Newborns in Need
Newborns in Need is the brainchild of Tina Burke ’76 MSN, who started the pilot program in Colorado many years ago. Burke passed away in 2015, after previously retiring from a nursing and midwife career that spanned four decades.
YSN adopted Newborns in Need as its Yale Day of Service project starting in 2017. In 2019, the 75 volunteers comprised of alumni, faculty, staff, and friends made it the university’s largest service project.
Newborns in Need planning committee Co-chair and YSNAA board member Maria Banevicius ’92 MSN, APRN is already looking ahead to 2022.
“We are planning to expand this outreach of aid to parents and their newborns,” Banevicius said. “We are hopeful that this developing concept, currently named Newborns in Need in a Box, can offer YSN alumni seed money and guidance to start similar projects in other states.”
The planning committee also included co-chair and YSNAA board member Elizabeth Silvers ’19 MSN, Heather Reynolds’80 MSN, CNM, FACNM, and YSNAA board member and board secretary Nancy Kraus ’78 MSN.