By Amanda Keener
Every Monday, Jennifer Degl leads a group through the halls of the neonatal intensive care unit at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y. The volunteers offer support to the parents of babies born early and struggling to survive.
Seven years ago, Degl, a high school science teacher in Putnam County, was one of those anxious parents. Her daughter, Joy, was born at 23 weeks gestation, weighing just over a pound. The baby spent her first four months in that NICU. Degl wasn’t allowed to hold Joy or change her diaper for a month.