A consistent theme we encounter is the special people involved (in the care of neonatal babies and the wider support of the families). We’re extremely grateful to all those who provide their ideas, time, support and donations to The Neonatal Trust.
We’re highlighting these great people with a regular profile piece and recently caught up with Jenn Gilbert . . .
Volunteer Profile: Jenn Gilbert
1. What have you done in your role as a Volunteer / How did you fundraise for The Neonatal Trust?
For around 18 months I have co-ordinated and helped to edit the monthly Neonatal Trust email newsletter. This has taken just a few hours a month to gather articles, information and stories and put it together. I have also helped fundraise around World Prematurity day and made cupcakes for families in the unit.
* Want to receive our monthly email newsletter and be kept up-to-date on all things neonatal? You can provide your email address here.
2. How did you come to volunteer/fundraise for The Neonatal Trust?
In 2014 my daughter, Ada, was born unexpectedly at 30 weeks in Wellington, due to pre-eclampsia and abruption.
Because of this she spent 7 weeks in the Wellington NICU and I got to know the lovely, friendly faces of the Neonatal Trust ladies in the Trust shop. They were so supportive through the NICU journey and offered practical help too, for example around hiring a breast pump. Once my daughter was discharged I went along to the Trust coffee groups for a while, which was a life saver when my daughter was still facing issues from her premature birth in her early months, and I knew the mums there ‘got it.’
3. What is your favourite part of volunteering / fundraising for The Neonatal Trust?
I have found it easy and rewarding, volunteering for the Trust. The team who work at the Trust are very friendly and helpful too, and it means a lot to me that I can give back.
4. What do you do when you aren’t volunteering / fundraising for The Neonatal Trust?
In my ‘day job,’ I work as a New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter, meaning I facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people. I’ve been doing this for around 9 years now and my job has taken me into all kinds of interesting situations. I interpret anywhere where communication is important- in work places, at the hospital, WINZ appointments, funerals, weddings, Parliament, comedy and theatre shows, school and university. I have been privileged to meet an array of amazing people, and I get to see a ‘slice of life’ in many areas.
I’m also busy being a mum to my daughter Ada, who is now 2.5 (picture attached). We are currently expecting our second baby, a boy, to be born mid-August, so we are excitedly awaiting his (non-premature!) arrival.
5. What advice would you give to someone who is currently on a neonatal journey?
Be kind to yourself! It’s a heck of a ride and you will get through the other side one day. Do what you need to do to look after yourself and your family. Each baby and family experiences the NICU journey differently so try hard not to compare yourself to others.
6. How many other people do you know who have had a neonatal experience?
Prior to having Ada I knew hardly any. Since then, via social media, and mummy networks, I now know many who have been through this experience. It’s often unexpected and sudden to become part of this ‘club’ so if you know anyone going through this, please be in contact with them offering your support
For links to other Volunteer profiles, FAQs and details of how you can help, head here.
Interested in how we support families going through the stress and anxiety of a neonatal journey?
Here’s a gallery of support examples.