How we help
Our mission is to provide care, education, and general support for families experiencing the stress of premature birth. By partnering with local NICUs, the Juliet Grace Smith Foundation supports initiatives that improve the preemie family experience.
During the first year of our existence, Juliet's Foundation simply passed along cash and in-kind donations to organizations that had helped Juliet including, but not limited to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital NICU, Norfolk's Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters NICU, and the Norfolk (VA) Ronald MacDonald House. Since that first year, we have leveraged our experience and relationships to develop projects as the primary way we can help. Thus far, our projects have been very specific and tactical, but it our ambition to raise the resources so that our projects can grow to be bigger in scope and more meaningful to the caregivers and the preemie families.
The following is a summary of our recent projects:
In 2020, we launched a new program at MedStar Georgetown. Under the guidance of Dr. Shilpa Saroop and in partnership with the Ava Potter Pilcher Foundation, this program is a comprehensive counseling and support system that will serve not only NICU families, but also NICU staff. The Two Hearts program will improve the experience of everyone who walks through the doors of the MedStar Georgetown NICU.
In 2017, we made our biggest donation yet! We gave $100,000 to the MedStar Georgetown NICU to hire and support their very own NICU Family Support Specialist. This valuable member of the NICU team will provide bedside support to families, coordinate activities for NICU parents to interact and connect with each other as a means of coping with their situation and support the NICU staff in providing best-practices for family-centered care.
In 2013, we took a more active role. Partnering with Dr. Melissa Scala, we funded a study to determine the positive effects of reading to preemies. In order to test the hypothesis, Juliet's Foundation sponsored the Books for Babies program - purchasing hundreds of children’s books that are regularly given away to parents to read to their children. This not only creates both a bond and a memory, but scientifically, it supports the language center of the developing infant brain. The results of this study were written by Dr. Scala et al and published in the Journal Of Perinatology in August 2018.
In 2018, we began hosting events for the families of MedStar Georgetown NICU. We hosted a Mother's Day party with breakfast, lunch, massages and manicures. Our Father's Day event included lots of great food (especially donuts), some sports and fun favors. An end-of-summer Ice Cream Social, brought lots of smiles to the families and staff of the NICU. Elevating the experience of NICU families is one of our biggest missions.
In 2014, our initiative was to improve the comfort of parents providing skin-to-skin holding (Kangaroo Care) to their newborns. Kangaroo Care is a caregiving technique used by parents that is proven to improve not only the health of the baby, but also the emotional health of the parent. The Foundation purchased items such as wraps to secure the infant to the parent, educational DVDs for families and nurses explaining the benefits and proper techniques for Kangaroo Care, and four comfortable recliners for the unit in hopes of encouraging more parents to choose Kangaroo Care when visiting their baby.
Beginning in 2013, Juliet's Foundation partnered with Arlington (VA) Soccer Association (ASA) to make an annual award to one or more pre-qualified financial aid student-athletes to cover or supplement their annual youth soccer expenses. In honor of Juliet's inspirational courage, candidates are required to complete a personal essay sharing an account of how they demonstrated courage on and off the soccer field.