Nonprofit helps Orange County preemies, parents

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  • | 9:56 a.m. July 30, 2015
Nonprofit helps Orange County preemies, parents
Nonprofit helps Orange County preemies, parents
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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HORIZON WEST — When Rosie Moore worked as a registered nurse, she had a lot of exposure to the neonatal intensive care unit. But she didn’t expect to find herself there one day, not as a nurse, but as the parent of an ailing newborn. 

Rosie and Marcus Moore’s youngest son, Kaleb, was born Oct. 13, 2009 — 13 weeks early. He weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces, and was 12 inches long.

“We lived in the NICU for five months,” Rosie Moore said. “We were there throughout the Christmas season, and we felt so grateful for what the nurses did for us. But one of the things that is hard is when the doctors tell you, ‘I’m sorry; your baby is just not up to par to go home for Christmas.’”

When Kaleb did go home, the Moores had to make sure he maintained a strict regimen of medications, tube feeding and oxygen supply. Marcus had to quit his job and become a stay-at-home dad to provide the care Kaleb needed, such as feedings every three hours. 

The Moores didn’t forget, though, that while they were in the NICU with Kaleb at Christmastime, someone went through the hospital and gave out umbrellas, books, toys and other gifts to patients and their families.

“It wasn’t what the gift was, but it was what the card said,” Rosie Moore said. “They said, ‘We’re praying for you during this time, and we’re thinking about you during Christmas.’”

Moore was struck by the idea that a stranger would do this for her family, and the next Christmas, she wanted to do something similar. In 2010 and 2011, she dropped off cookies for the staff at the hospital on Christmas.

“It came out of a hurt that I had … a need to not have people feel like we did,” Moore said. 

In 2012, she was working at an assisted-living facility, and some of the residents liked to knit toy bears to give to churches and send to children living in poverty. She asked these women whether they would be willing to knit 150 bears for the Moores to give out at Florida Hospital.

In 2013, staff at the hospital invited Moore back to give out more bears, but they also wanted her to go into the NICU and talk to the parents there.

“When I walked through the halls, I got goosebumps, and all I could think about was, ‘What am I going to say to these parents to encourage them?” Moore said. 

She remembers three parents who seemed to be particularly touched by her words and actions.

In 2014, Moore officially founded The Gift of Life as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 

“Prematurity is not prejudiced,” Moore said. “Prematurity affects every socio-economic status. … Whatever your race is, it doesn’t matter, and it affects all ages. Prematurity affects everyone, which is why our range is so large.”

In addition to providing care packages, hats, and bears to babies in the NICU and their parents, The Gift of Life seeks to provide emotional, financial and spiritual support for parents of premature babies.

One way Moore does this is through a private Facebook group that parents can join to communicate with one another. Many parents say they are grateful for this opportunity because with babies who have weak immune systems, leaving the house is usually too big of a risk. But with the Facebook group, they can still socialize and get advice from other parents.

Moore said studies have shown that a lot of parents have difficulty learning how to use all of the home equipment they will need to care for their premature babies in the short amount of time they get in the hospital. It can be overwhelming to learn everything at once, and they would prefer to learn in stages.

She wants to start pairing thorough but concise instructions with visual guides to make the learning process easier. 

“We want to be the ones to … be able to help them and say, ‘You’re not in it alone,’” Moore said. “It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about—helping others.”


WHEN: 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12

WHERE: Wyndham Orlando Resort, 8001 International Drive, Orlando

TICKETS: $45 for adults, $25 for children, $100 for VIPs, $450 for groups of 10. Reservations due by Sept. 1.

DETAILS: The gala is a black-tie affair that will include dinner, musical entertainment and auctions. Proceeds will benefit The Gift of Life. 


Contact Catherine Sinclair at [email protected].


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