After both of her sons spent their first several weeks of life inside the walls of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Pam Frasco and her family began sending treats to the NICU staff and visiting on her son’s anniversaries. “After a few years of this, I decided I wanted to do something more,” said Pam. “Project NICU was born out of love and support from family and friends, our desire to give back to the community that means so much to us, and the distinct need for connection with other parents who experienced such a traumatic event.”
Project NICU focuses on providing connection, support, and community to everyone involved in the NICU Journey. “I wanted a way for NICU parents like myself to be able to give back to those that have come after us and celebrate the incredible medical teams that work miracles minute by minute,” said Pam. “From NICU Care Packages to our Family Assistance Fund, Parent Mentoring, Virtual Support Groups, Graduate Programming, events, and more, we are here for every step of the journey,” she added.
Since its inception, Project NICU has distributed over 5,000 Care Packages all over the country; nearly 3,000 were distributed in 2020 alone. These packages include items selected by NICU parents for NICU parents. In addition, Project NICU has granted $30,000 in the last three years through their Family Assistance Fund, and other nonprofits focused on research and programming targeted towards the NICU community. “We have over 10,000 active members between our social platforms and have hosted 80 Virtual Support Groups serving hundreds of families since March of 2019,” said Pam.
Pam was awarded a 2021 Nation of Neighbors℠ grant, which will allow Project NICU to launch a new counseling program. “This program will allow us to add a much-needed layer to our support approach offering direct mental health counseling to parents who have experienced a traumatic birth and NICU journey,” Pam said. “By providing scholarships, we can eliminate a barrier for families to receive the support they so desperately need.”
According to the CDC, 1 in 10 babies born in the United States are born prematurely1, and mothers of preterm babies are 40% more likely to develop postpartum depression (PPD).2 If a baby is treated in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a mother is up to 70% more likely to experience PPD compared with mothers of healthy term infants outside of the NICU.2
I started this ‘passion project’ not knowing where it would lead,” shared Pam. “I am honored to watch NICU Families take Project NICU to their community and support them, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future!