Cradling New Life Helps Premature Babies

When these union brothers and sisters are not building power lines or are not hanging out with saws in hand maneuvering around high power electrical wire, they are raising money for pre-mature babies.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 55, in the Des Moines, Iowa area, voted overwhelmingly to donated $20,000 to help start a non-profit organization to help families that have babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, (NICU).

Cradling New Life is the 2014 inspiration of Shane Nelson, a Journeyman Lineman and assistant Business Manager with IBEW Local 55.  The mission statement of the Cradling New Life states “The Cradling New Life mission is to address the needs of families enduring the struggles of pre-term labor, premature birth, or other ill little ones in Iowa Hospitals’ Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Raising awareness and establishing a unified footprint toward their needs.”

The charity is made up of a seven-person (unpaid) board, headed by a nurse, and the rest of the board are wives of Local 55 members.

Cradling New Life began with an open meeting on the idea of helping families with babies in Iowa Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units in January 2015. At this meeting 7 volunteers agreed to become board members for this organization and Shane agreed to be an honorary member from Local 55. It was decided at this point we would hold regular meetings monthly and things progressed from there.

Cradling New Life helps families who have infants in Iowa hospitals’ Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) and those addressing antepartum issues.  Assistance is provided financially and by raising awareness.  Babies are admitted to NICUs due to premature birth, complications arising during delivery, or signs of ill health which occur within the first few days of life.  One of every nine expectant mothers do not carry their babies to full term.  Nearly 450,000 infants in the United States are admitted to a NICU annually.  In Iowa, approximately 11.3% of babies born are premature.

Infant stays in the NICU are vital to survival.  Emotional and economic distress are often compounded as these tiny miracles encounter the ups and downs of progress.  Alleviating just a small part of a family’s concerns can truly make a difference.  Cradling New Life is not an income based charity.  Its purpose is to provide assistance in the most fulfilling situations.  The charity gives such items as gas cards, grocery gift certificates, rent/mortgage assistance, lodging funds, and child care money.  It donates Kindle Fires, books, games, crafts, and computers to hospital NICUs for family usage.  Something as simple as a restaurant gift card so parents can just take a little time for themselves can be extremely meaningful.

All circumstances differ as do the emotions endured.   Many go home while their baby remains hospitalized for days, weeks, and even months.  The Cradling New Life goal is to show an expression of concern which in turn makes the parents’ experiences a little better until their little ones are able to go home.

“My husband and I endured our own financial struggles during my pregnancy with our twins. I was on bed rest for three and a half months with six and a half weeks requiring hospitalization.,” said Mindy Nelson, Second Vice President, Des Moines Area (Coordinator). “I am involved in this charity because I have first-hand knowledge of the difficulties faced by these families and I want to help other in similar situations. This charity is near and dear to my heart”

Business Agent, Rusty McCuen, said that NICU’s are one of the least funded areas in Iowa hospitals.

“Most of the time, a baby’s NICU admission is totally unexpected by their family. Emergency needs arise for food, personal care items, short term housing, gas money, baby items (diapers, preemie clothing, special equipment), and cost of daycare for other siblings while parents are in the NICU. Most of our families are without immediate resources to help them respond to these burdens while trying to manage the frightening NICU world. The relief your organization has brought to these families is unimaginable and so deeply appreciated. Thank you for helping them when they have nowhere else to turn and may, themselves, have little left to cope for these very pressing needs.” – Terri Simms, LISW

 According to McCuen, social workers at the hospital will contact the Area Director of Cradling New Life about a need. The board will meet with the families, to get to know and what their needs are, and the donations will usually go towards those needs.

Since they are a non-profit organization they have to raise money to continue to help these families. They have held golf tournaments, dunk tanks, Wrap it Up at Bass Pro Shops, Pedal to the Metal at MB2 Raceway, and YOUNIQUE by Ashley Ross a social media fundraiser.

They hope to raise enough money this year to expand the program to Iowa City and Sioux City Hospitals.

They have held two golf tournaments, and this year (2017) they had 30 teams (five more than last year) and they raised just over $27,000.

If you want to donate to this charity, you can go to, and click on donations, and/or for more information, call Carrie McCuen, 515-249-6800. Cradling New Life PO Box 3407, Des Moines, IA. 50316.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

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