ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- A family advisory council is now in place to support parents and families with newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mission Hospital.
"We've had some positive feedback from parents who have said it was nice to have somebody to talk with that wasn't medical," said Mission NICU nurse Stephanie Wright.
Fifteen-month-old Teniya Hunnicutt spent 81 days in the Mission NICU as a preemie.
She's doing great. Now her parents are offering encouragement and hope to help others in similar situations, working as volunteers for other parents enduring the same ordeal.
It's making a difference.
"I had breakdown moments. It was challenging, but you find it inside you to be strong, and put on a good face," said Teniya's father, Terry Hunnicutt, now a family advisory council volunteer.
"I can remember back when I was in there, and I would just want to reach out to them because they looked so sad, and like they didn't know what was going to happen," said Tenya's mom, Jen, also a volunteer.
The Hunnicutts say the best advice they offer is to hold tight to faith--and rely on a support system.
Terry worked and continued to take care of their other children while her baby was hospitalized.
Jen stayed at the hospital with the newborn, but relied on others to make meals for her family.