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Memory Boxes Provide Emotional Support To Families

Senior professional staff nurses, from left, Ashton Bird BSN and Courtney Darr join Ashley Megat and her mother, Diane Franklin, display items in the newly created Memory Boxes created through Joey’s Journey Fund at WCA Foundation. The Megat and Franklin families have created the fund to comfort parents of deceased infant patients at UPMC Chautauqua. Community support for the fund will enhance the nurturing therapy offered through this project. Submitted photos

The journey to parenthood can be an exhilarating time in the lives of a young couple.

For JJ and Ashley Megat, their joy turned to concern and then sorrow as they lost their unborn child. Faced with such a loss seemed impossible until total strangers supplied a Memory Box for couples who found themselves grieving the loss of their child.

“Our son, Joseph Franklin Megat, was stillborn on March 31, 2020, at 19 weeks, 4 days gestation,” Ashely Megat confided. “Following his delivery at UPMC Hamot, we received a Memory Box and those items are what we cherish the most.”

Turning their tragedy into opportunity to follow those who helped them through their difficulty, the Megats and Ashley’s mom, Diane Franklin, have worked with the staff of UPMC Chautauqua and WCA Foundation to do the same for families in the Chautauqua region.

“We’re grateful to be given the opportunity to partner with WCA Foundation to create Joey’s Journey Fund,” Ashley Megat said. “We provide memory boxes and emotional support information to bereaved parents. The feeling of losing your baby is unimaginable, but I hope families find comfort in these items. If anyone has any questions, we’d be happy if they would contact us at joeysjourneyfund@gmail.com.”

Ashton Bird BSN, From left, Courtney Darr and Ashley Megat assemble gift boxes from Joey’s Journey Fund for the use by UPMC Chautauqua Maternity Department for special families they serve.

Using baby Joey’s footprints as the logo of their efforts, the Megat and Franklin families have begun an endowed fund called Joey’s Journey Fund honoring the memory of their son.

“A donation of $20 will provide remembrance boxes for families who have lost a child due to early pregnancy loss, stillbirth or infancy loss,” Ashley added.

After creating an initial supply of the boxes, the family will work to build the endowment so grants generated by the fund will supply materials to create the Memory Boxes. Inside each box will be family photos, teddy bears, caps and booties for each child, angels and other mementoes that will be cherished forever.

As comforting as these gifts may be, the educational information about pregnancy loss, stillbirth, infancy loss and the associated grief will help families served at UPMC Chautauqua.

“WCA Foundation supports UPMC Chautauqua in many ways,” said Brigetta Overcash, executive director of the foundation. “The Megat and Franklin families have found a unique and compassionate way to give our maternity staff even more tools to enhance and promote health and healing for the bereaved families they serve. Their work is truly a gift to this hospital, the community and our foundation.

“You can really tell what great caring staff we have at our hospital when you see projects like this. Ashley’s mom, Diane, who is Practice Manager for the UPMC Chautauqua Hospitalist Program, not only uses her expertise and amazing optimistic energy for Joey’s Journey, but shares the lead role in other wonderful projects at the hospital like its United Way campaign.”

Volunteers from the Megat and Franklin families, as well as employees of the Maternity Department of UPMC Chautauqua, are utilizing their Facebook and other electronic postings as well as word of mouth to generate support for their fund. They are a part of WCA Foundation’s Donation Days Gratitude and Giving Campaign which concludes January 31.

For more information about Joey’s Journey Fund at UPMC Chautauqua, contact Overcash at overcashbe@upmc.edu or 664-5461, or Megan Barone, director of development of UPMC Chautauqua and WCA Foundation at baronema3@upmc.edu or 664-8423. Donations may be made to Joey’s Journey Fund by credit card on the foundation’s secure website: www.wcafoundationjamestown.org or by cash or check made out to WCA Foundation, 51 Glasgow Ave. Building F, P.O. Box 840, Jamestown, NY 14702-0840.

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