By Martie Thompson
In an effort to continue the legacy of their young daughter, Ashlyn Maise, whom they lost to a rare lung disorder at the age of three months, Heather and Eric Leide formed Team A.Maise. This nonprofit provides items that offer comfort and encourage self care to families of children in the pediatric (PICU) and neonatal intensive care units of Wolfson Children’s Hospital and UF Health.
“Our daughter was in the PICU at Wolfson for a month, and we became close to the chaplain and many of the workers,” Heather Leide said. “There was a nonprofit called Project Renewed Hope that provided us with journals and gift cards … we benefited greatly from them.”
Leide said that shortly after their daughter passed away, her family visited the PICU and took the staff thank you gifts for their caring efforts. The Leides sought to do something to help other families such as themselves, but with the existence of Project Renewed Hope, they were searching for another way to provide support. Approximately two months later, they learned from the chaplain that the founder of Project Renewed Hope had decided to step away and so a need existed after all.
“The chaplain thought of us immediately,” Leide said. “We started Team A.Maise, and launched on Nov. 1, 2020, which was the one year anniversary of when Ashlyn was admitted to the hospital. We tried to take a negative and turn it to a positive.”
Team A.Maise has four basic programs: Comfort and Care Packages (toiletries, snacks, activity books for children, cards, crayons); Parent Pack, which features personal items (socks, toiletries, snacks, journal) for families from out of town who are in the PICU long term; Gift Cards; and the Snack Cart and Coffee Bar, which offers bottled water, individually pre-packaged granola bars, cookies and snacks.
“We know from experience that it is sometimes difficult for parents to leave their child’s side to get a drink or a snack,” Leide said. “We refill our snack baskets in the PICU with water and simple food items twice a month.”
Leide said her favorite donation that Team A.Maise was able to provide to Wolfson was a stethoscope recording device.
“This stethoscope can record a child’s heartbeat and provide a lasting memory for parents,” Leide said.
Team A.Maise accepts both in kind and monetary donations. There is a printable list of items for the Comfort and Care Packs on the group’s website (www.teamamaise.org) and Leide said people can ship items to the address listed on the website. The website accepts PayPal and Venmo. Team A.Maise is also an option on Amazon Smile, offering a way for people to donate that doesn’t cost them any money at all.
“We rely solely on donations,” Leide said. “It’s a labor of love, but it has gone better than we could have imagined … especially when we see the grateful faces at the hospital when we do our dropoffs.”
Leide said there is a big fundraiser scheduled for June called “Baskets, Brews and Barbecue.” More information is forthcoming as the date gets closer; follow Team A.Maise on social media for updates.
“Our motto at Team A.Maise is ‘Be A.Maising,’” Leide said. “We want to encourage everyone to help others and to share love with others.”
Visit www.teamamaise.org for more information or to make a donation.
Photo courtesy Heather Leide
Child Life Specialist Mary Lauren Furlong, Mark Frost (Team A.Maise director of IT), Eric Leide, Heather Leide, Erin Hallock (Team A.Maise secretary and Chaplain Lisa Solwold at the group’s first drop-off at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.