February 6, 2024

New Parents Pay It Forward

Offering Support for Racialized Families in the Women’s and Infants’ Program

In August 2021, expectant parents Katie Zamprogna and Henry Lukenge arrived at St. Joe’s Birthing Unit with their hospital bags packed, feeling all of the usual emotions – excitement, anticipation, nervousness – as they were about to embark on the life-altering journey of welcoming a child.

Their first nurse, Janice, helped to get them settled in and calm their nerves, reassuring them they were in good hands and our experienced medical team would be there to support them each step of the way. As the day went on, Henry shared that he was of Ugandan parentage and had grown up all over the world. That’s when Janice shared that Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, an obstetrician at St. Joe’s, had spent several years working in Uganda, where she founded Save the Mothers, a not-for-profit organization that promotes maternal health in the developing world. Before the end of the night, the family was introduced to Dr. Chamberlain Froese and they chatted and connected over their shared desire to create a better world.

In the early hours of August 29, their son Alexander was born, crying and tired, but healthy and calm. Katie and Henry were overjoyed.

“There are many emotions I have been through in life, but none of them even come close to how I felt seeing him enter this world. It was beautiful, it was amazing, it was exciting,” shares new dad Henry. “Alex had just beaten one of life’s wars, the right to be born alive. There are many children around the world who do not have access to the same level of care and facilities as we do. That is a privilege we should never take for granted,” he adds.

Katie Zamprogna and Henry Lukenge made a $10,000 donation in recognition of the care they received at St. Joe’s and to support racialized families with newborns transitioning from St. Joe’s to home.

Every child deserves a fair start in life, regardless of their circumstances. Grateful for the exceptional care they received at St. Joe’s, the Zamprogna-Lukenge family decided to pay it forward by giving back to the Hospital to support local families in need. They made a generous gift of $10,000 to the Women’s and Infants’ Programs, half of which was dedicated to supporting racialized families transitioning from St. Joe’s to home and the other half was a general donation in gratitude to nursing staff and Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese’s assistance in the birth of their son.

At St. Joe’s, our dedicated team of social workers work closely with new parents to identify those who may need a little assistance. “Being able to provide support for essential newborn care items like car seats, bassinets, clothing, diapers, formula, and more helps to empower these families and fulfil their desire to give their baby the best start possible,” says Rebecca Wasser, Registered Social Worker. “The donation has also helped our care team to support families who are new to the country as refugees – as so often they’re arriving here with only the bare necessities.”

Not only has this gift been instrumental in ensuring the safety and well-being of numerous infants, but the extra care and support provided is helping families feel empowered and confident as they begin their parenting journey.

This story was originally published in our 2022-23 Donor Impact Report. Click here to read the full report and discover other inspiring stories from our supporters.

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