Warwick woman awarded Patriots’ grant for work with newborns

Kelcy Dolan
Posted 7/21/15

The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, in partnership with the Kraft Family, awarded $200,000 in grants to 26 volunteer from around New England as part of their Celebrate Volunteerism …

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Warwick woman awarded Patriots’ grant for work with newborns

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The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, in partnership with the Kraft Family, awarded $200,000 in grants to 26 volunteer from around New England as part of their Celebrate Volunteerism initiative June 9 at Gillette Stadium.

One of those winners is Warwick resident Corin Nava who received $5,000 for her work volunteering in neonatal intensive care unit for Women & Infants’ volunteer and Project Sweet Peas, a non-profit organization that she co-founded.

Project Sweet Peas, is a national organization that supports families whose infants are in the NICU and or have lost their young child. Support comes in the form of hand-delivered care packages for basic and long-term care, financial assistance, memory boxes and peer support from those who have been through the experience before.

We want to reach out and support these parents so they have peers that have been through what they are going through and came out on the other side, Nava said in a phone interview Monday.

Nava was one of those parents. She lost her son, Gabriel in 2007 after complications due to an undiagnosed congenital diaphragmatic hernia nearly two months after he was born.

With other mothers she met through an online support group, Nava began Project Sweet Peas and in 2010 it officially became a non-profit organization serving more than 25 hospitals nationwide.

She now serves as treasurer for the organization and is the project coordinator for Project Sweet Peas local division, Gabriel’s Gift, which serves Women & Infants’, Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in Connecticut.

Nava said stays in the NICU are especially hard on parents and it is a time when support is critical.

“The NICU is a place you don’t expect, or even necessarily know about until you have a child that needs it. It’s not a place you want to end up; it’s overwhelming. You are thrown into this whirlwind where you’re supposed to be able to touch and hold your baby, take them home, but instead you are watching them fight for their life,” she said.

Nava wanted to take a tragic event and turn it into something positive and believes receiving not only recognition, but also the grant from the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, validates all the work she has put into her organization.

“All the hard work we’ve done, the long nights and our work behind the scenes mean something,” she said.

The $5,000 was split between two Gabriel’s Gift initiatives, the first being a Family Assistant Fun, which parents can apply for up to $200 to help pay for food and transportation in times of emergency during the care of their infant in the NICU.

The second initiative is to help manufacture Sweet Pea Scent Dolls, which help the bonding between parent and infant.

When holding a child may prove harmful, a parent or parents keep this doll on them, it gathers the scent and then is given to the infant.

After her first child’s stay in the NICU and subsequent, yet much shorter stays with her other three children, Nava said the NICU holds a special place in her heart.

“The doctors and nurses in the NICU are a special breed,” Nava said. “It’s a scary place but a place like no other and it holds a place in my in heart. They gave me two months of my son that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and I owe them for that.”

One of her newest volunteer initiatives is promoting NICU month, which is September so parents know what resources are out there for them during the difficult time.

For more information on the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation visit, www.patriots.com/community.

For more information on Women & Infants’ Hospital visit www.womenandinfants.org.

For more information on or to donate to Project Sweet Peas visit www.projectsweetpeas.com.

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