Volunteer Spotlight Archives

A group such as The Preemie Project would be nothing without a dedicated group of volunteers. We feel lucky to have so many amazing people from all walks of life trying to help our organization. With each newsletter, we try to highlight different volunteers. This is the archive of those highlights. To each of you, please accept our heartfelt 'thanks.'

Tracy Batchelder

Tracy Batchelder

Featured Volunteer Tracy Batchelder

When I learned to knit four years ago, my mother-in-law encouraged me to find a charity to knit for. She knew first hand the joy that comes from knitting for others. Her needles were always busy with a hat or a sweater for a child in need. Following her example and in her memory, I began to knit for The Preemie Project in May 2005.

I live in Needville, Texas, which is near Houston. My husband, John, and I have two children. Our daughter is married and lives in Fort Worth. Our son just completed his first year at Oklahoma Christian University. An empty nest has its benefits: our time is more our own than ever.

I enjoy spending that time knitting for the babies. My favorite things to make are preemie hats. However, the most important items I knit are bereavement sets. It’s impossible to knit a tiny gown without thinking about how hard it would be to lose a child, so it’s a challenge sometimes, but I’m glad I’m able to share a little kindness with those who are grieving.

The highlight of being a volunteer for this group came last summer when I was able to attend a sewing weekend in Iowa. It was great to meet Laura and everyone in person. Working together we were able to sew almost 100
blankets! It was a wonderful experience and I hope one day I’ll be able to do it again.  I had no idea back when I made my first preemie hat that this work would become such an important part of my life. You never know the impact your actions will have on someone else or how they will inspire those close to you, so I was touched and a little surprised when my husband wrote a song called Little Babies. A home recording of it is on The Preemie Project website. I hope it will encourage you, as it has me, to give your best for the little babies and their families.

Read More About Tracy Batchelder

Michele Hogue

Michele Hogue

Featured Volunteer Michele Hogue

Free time what is that?? My name is Michele Hogue and I have trouble with free time. It is hard for me to sit around, watch TV and relax. Sewing is my stress relief. Last July I saw information about The Preemie Project and thought what an awesome cause. My one and only son, Josh had graduated from Clear Creek Amana last May and I was wondering what I was going to do without all of his school activities. The Preemie Project has been perfect. I am definitely hooked! I love the fact that I can work on my own and decide what I want to make. I really enjoy the work groups because you get to meet other volunteers and sew all day long. I’m a Work Group MVP!

I grew up on a dairy farm near Coggon, Iowa (north of Cedar Rapids). Being the oldest of five children, I know how to take care of others and the value of hard work. We worked together as a family taking care of the animals and crops. My mom taught me to sew and embroider probably when I was around eleven. I’ve made items such as Halloween costumes, snowmen, curtains, wedding flowers, bibs, and quilts. Baby quilts are my favorite. Ask any of my ten nieces and nephews, they each have at least one. I am working on another round of larger quilts for birthdays.

When I graduated from high school, I came to the University of Iowa and have never left. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. I worked in social service agencies such as the Crisis Center, Legal Services, Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County and the Emergency Housing Project (now known as the Shelter House). Working in those agencies gave me a sense of pride and commitment to helping others. In 1998 I started working at the University of Iowa in the Department of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health. Epidemiology is the study of disease and how it affects the human population.

Our department does invaluable research in areas such as cancer, birth defects, infectious diseases, and mental illness. I’m currently the Human Resources Coordinator. It is challenging but the variety is great for me. In addition to The Preemie Project and work, I volunteer as the secretary for the Clear Creek Amana Foundation. When I am not sewing, I am attending auctions, working on the family farm and spending time with my family.

Read More About Michele Hogue

Lana Johnson

Lana Johnson

Featured Volunteer Lana Johnson

“What good can I do today?“ Benjamin Franklin is reported to have asked himself every morning.

Hi! My name is Lana Johnson from Springfield, Missouri and I am the proud mother of three preemie boys. My eldest born in 1993 11 weeks early at 1 lb. 14 oz., my second born in June 1999 10 weeks early at 2 lb. 1 oz., and my third born in August 2004 five weeks early at 3 lb. 10 oz.

I’m currently a stay-at-home mom. The internet has become my adult company and has opened up doors to helping others I would never have dreamed possible! I’m not sure whose blog I was visiting when I came across The Preemie Project, but it certainly seemed a cause that was custom made for me. Hey, I can knit, having learned over 30 years ago in 4-H. Having been in the trenches of the NICU 3 times, my empathy for those in similar circumstances hits close to the heart. A young woman named Laura Aker was asking for some preemie hats and booties, so I sent some. I joined the Yahoo group on August 30, 2005 a day after my baby turned one. I’ve since helped with whatever I could, as I could. It’s an honor to be a part of such a group of caring, creative and energetic people from all over the world! 

“What good have I done today?“ Benjamin Franklin is reported to have asked himself every evening. When I ask myself that question I know I’ve used my God-given talents for others, and
that’s always a good thing!

Read More About Lana Johnson

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