In 2010, Wyndmoor’s Martha Sharkey learned that she and her husband were expecting. When she was just 23 weeks pregnant, Sharkey went into labor, delivering twins Claire and Mary. The girls were immediately admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at Abington Memorial Hospital. Two weeks later, Mary passed. Another three months after that, a thriving Claire was released and sent home with her parents. To honor their daughters and aid parents on a similar journey, the Sharkeys launched a nonprofit in 2014 called Today Is a Good Day to provide emotional and financial support. To date, they’ve given care packages to over 1,000 families. This year, Sharkey committed full time to the organization, leaving her position as executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District.
MLT: What inspired you to start your own foundation?
MS: Our daughter Mary was with us just two weeks before earning her angel wings. Our daughter Claire spent 103 days in the Abington NICU before coming home. The immunologists, the doctors, the nurses, the staff at the hospital—they’re just amazing, and they helped us through that journey. But we found that there was a real gap in care for parents navigating the NICU journey, so we started Today Is a Good Day not only to provide that personal support, but financial support, as well.
MLT: What are your goals for the future?
MS: We’re not only expanding our financial grant program, but we’re also looking to expand our care packages to at least one other hospital in 2018.
MLT: What’s it like to go back to the NICU now?
MS: One of our initiatives is that we take Claire back to the NICU and meet with current families. Our goal is to really listen to parents, answer questions, and share stories and talk to them about things we wish we would’ve done or known—things like early intervention, secondary insurance, and talking to your social worker at the hospital to see what assistance they can provide.
MLT: Was anyone special there to help you through your NICU experience?
MS: Yes. One week into our NICU journey, we met a little boy, Sam, who was then 3 years old. He was a former 23-weeker. He gave us such hope and inspiration for our girls that, even after Mary had passed away, we kept saying to ourselves, “Sam was successful—Claire can be successful.”