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HRA senior supports NICU families with Senior Project

It was among the shrill beeps of heart rate monitoring machines, blue lights glowing in Plexiglas incubators and resuscitation devices hanging from cribs housing premature babies that Hampton Roads Academy senior Eryn Gaffney found her passion and calling. 

She has always wanted to help those in need whether it is through food pantry donations, volunteering or cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, but it was her summer spent volunteering at Riverside Regional Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that has inspired her to pursue a career as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in the future.

Eryn turned her passion for NICU families and babies into action with her Hampton Roads Academy senior project. HRA has a history of encouraging students to pursue independent study and the annual Senior Project Program asks students to learn about a subject that sparks their curiosity, passion, or interest. While volunteering in the NICU, Eryn learned the NICU was in need of blankets for the babies, as they like to send the blanket home with the baby. The blankets are used for swaddling purposes, but are also used as keepsakes for the parents of a baby that does not survive.

Eryn planned to make 100 blankets to donate to the babies in the NICU for her senior project, she held a successful fabric drive, learned how to sew, organized additional volunteers, and surpassed her 100 blanket goal and created 127 custom blankets that NICU families will be able to enjoy and take home as a keepsake.

She presented the blankets to Riverside Regional Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in March and was able to hand deliver blankets to families in the NICU.

“Riverside and our communities are fortunate to have volunteers like Eryn – people who see need where it exists, then waste no time creating solutions,” said Riverside Foundation Annual Giving Officer Julia Bowditch. “She has been an incredible addition to our Riverside family and exemplifies our mission; to care for others as we would care for those we love.”