During the height of the pandemic, most of our agencies went through some type of shut down or stopped receiving blankets from us. As we continue to recover and agencies reorganize, we’ve partnered with new friends and welcomed old friends back again. Two new agencies we brought on board are The Welcome to America Project and Hushabye Nursery. And former agency, Sunshine Acres, has returned as a blanket recipient. Over the summer, several AZ Blankets 4 Kids (AZB4K) Board members toured The Welcome to America Project and Sunshine Acres. Keep reading to learn more about these amazing organizations serving our kids and our communities.
The Welcome to America Project
July 13, 2022 Tour and Blanket Delivery
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, destroyed many lives and forever changed many more. One of the lives lost was Terence Manning. Terence’s brother, Phil, and Phil’s wife, Carolyn, wanted to create something positive out of the tragedy. On October 7, 2001, Carolyn saw a photograph in the local news of a political refugee family from Afghanistan now living in Phoenix. The Manning’s realized this family sought the same things they did–safety, housing, and a future for their children. They began collecting donations of household goods and clothing for the Afghan family from their friends and neighbors. They were seeking to honor Terence’s death by welcoming this family, leading to the founding of The Welcome To America Project (WTAP).
During the last 20 years, WTAP has continued to welcome recently arrived refugees. They create meaningful interactions and provide much-needed resources that empower our new neighbors to reach self-sufficiency and positively impact the community. In that time, WTAP has welcomed more than 15,000 refugees from over 40 countries.
On July 13, Board members Letty, Nina, Orpha, and Sylvia (and husband, Harry) visited their warehouse/offices in Tempe. They are situated in a complex with many other buildings and businesses. They were greeted with enthusiasm and were overwhelmed at all the blankets we brought. There were 260 blankets in our first delivery. Karissa Pletta, their Program Director, talked about their beginnings and how they operate. Their website has more information (www.wtap.org) and ways you can help.
The warehouse has supplies that people need to help them to furnish an apartment through donations from dishes to TVs to computers and lots more. There are a lot of bicycles, mainly for folks to get around since they don’t have cars. They like to receive donations from soccer balls to tea pots to rice cookers for the different cultures from around the world. In 2021 they helped just over 400 families (approximately 1,600 people) get resettled, and they expect to do the same in 2022.
July 30, 2022 Tour
Sunshine Acres, also called Miracle in the Desert, has been home to more than 2,000 children since 1954. The mission of Sunshine Acres is to provide a loving, wholesome, Christian home for children who are separated from their parents and help them establish long-term relationships with stable parental figures, preparing them for success in adult life. Sunshine Acres accepts children between the ages of 5 and 15. No matter the reason for admission, a child can stay as long as he or she needs a home, even through college. They do not turn away children for financial reasons and are licensed by the state of Arizona.
Children come to Sunshine Acres Children’s Home for a variety of reasons. Some have parents in prison while others have a parent who is too ill to care for the child. The family could be homeless or the child has been living with grandparents who find it difficult to care for their grandchildren. No matter what brings a child to them, the child can count on Sunshine Acres to provide:
- Spiritual guidance
- Medical care
- Education (including college or trade school)
- Transitional Living
- Sports and activities
- Many enrichment programs
On July 30, a group of AZB4K Board members joined other individuals for a tour of Sunshine Acres. Our tour guide was a child at Sunshine Acres and has returned as a volunteer. She drove us through the campus and led us through a couple of the children’s homes. Their homes are separated for girls and boys. Several new homes have been built recently and several more are in the planning phase. The homes are set up with house parents who live in the home full time and function as a family unit. The property has a dining hall where 3 meals are served every day. Enrichment programs include livestock shows where children must care for and show their animals, a horse program, music lessons, karate, gardening, fitness, and more. Check out their website at sunshineacres.org for more information, to schedule a tour, or to find hours for one of their resale shops. You’ll see some highlights in the slideshow below. Sunday services at their chapel are primarily run by the children and open for the public to attend. We are happy to support the mission of this amazing organization who serve their children and families so beautifully.
Hushabye Nursery’s mission is to ‘embrace substance exposed babies and their caregivers with compassionate, evidence-based care that changes the course of their entire lives.’ The organization was founded by Tara Sundem, a neonatal nurse practitioner who witnessed firsthand the challenges of newborns exposed prenatally to opioids and those families trying to care for them.
Hushabye Nursery offers a safe and inclusive space where mothers, family members and babies – from conception through childhood – can receive integrative care and therapeutic support that offers each child the best possible life outcomes. Programs include prenatal and postpartum support groups, inpatient nursery services and outpatient therapies.
With nearly 50,000 opioid-related deaths in 2017, today’s opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history. The opioid crisis is made more complex when considering the growing phenomenon of co-occurring pregnancy.
Women who become pregnant while using opioids – both illegal and medically-monitored – are typically prescribed opiates throughout their pregnancies due to the risk of prenatal withdrawal and miscarriage. As a result, their babies are born into an opiate dependent state known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) which requires a complex and painful detoxification process in the days following birth.
In the state of Arizona, two babies are born every day withdrawing from opioid dependency.
Hushabye Nursery’s care model provides the ideal setting for the family-centered Eat, Sleep and Console (ESC) best practice care protocol for infants experiencing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Hushabye Nursery is licensed with the Arizona Department of Health as a Level 1 Sub-Acute facility and is accredited through CARF International.
At Hushabye Nursery, each infant experiencing NAS and their caregiver shares one of 12 private rooms. This allows primary caretakers to room-in, feed frequently, and provide the continual one-on-one soothing and bonding critical for recovery. Hushabye Nursery’s nurses draw from their extensive experience to provide targeted care to infants that reduces Adverse Childhood Experiences. Hushabye Nursery’s team and caregivers are trained in soothing techniques shown to be effective non-pharmacologic interventions.
Hushabye Nursery’s use of pharmacologic intervention is 4% compared with the average NICU use of 95%. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends non-pharmacologic management should be the first line of treatment for all newborns experiencing NAS. The National Association of Neonatal Nurses’ evidence-based practice reports that “[t]he Eat, Sleep, Console Model (ESC) is the number one modality that has shown to significantly reduce postnatal opioid use for the management of NAS and decrease length of hospital stay by as much as 73%.” The ESC model of care significantly decreases length of treatment and cost of care. ESC is the primary intervention for infants with NAS at Hushabye Nursery.
AZB4K is proud to provide blankets for these tiny recipients, to help console them as they recover and grow with the help of this amazing team of caregivers. Visit hushabyenursery.org online for more information about their programs, to get help, or give support. At the writing of this article, their website stated there were 335 Hushabye babies served since November 2020, and 77% of those babies got to stay with their moms.