Father of three, grandfather to eight, and great-grandfather to two, Louis Mapp of Alabama truly knows how to be nurturing. Really, this grandpa who cuddles babies in the NICU as a volunteer goes above and beyond and just made the most heartwarming gesture to continue helping these little babies and their families.
Mapp, 81 — who drives almost an hour each way once a week to help cuddle and comfort the preemies at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, according to Parents — has just upped the ante on his efforts by pledging an endowment of $1 million, as the New York Post reported. The money will be given through the Mapp Family Foundation, a nonprofit the senior runs with his wife of 59 years, Melinda, according to ABC News.
But why has he decided to give the hospital such a thoughtful and generous donation? While he told People that "it’s hard to describe" what it's like see newborns in the NICU if you've never experienced, he wants to help a truly special place.
“After being there and seeing what a special place it is, and what an impact they have on people’s lives, my wife and I decided we wanted to do something for them," he told People of his donation, adding:
We have been blessed, and we said, "What a good place, to share some of those blessings, with the NICU." And the endowment will be there, long after we’re gone, to keep providing funds for them.
Mapp also told People that the unit's staff should be the ones to decide what equipment and supplies the money should be spent on to in order to best help the babies, not him. Oh, and he doesn't mind burping and changing babies on the job
The story of Mapp's touching involvement with the Hollis J. Wiseman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at USA Children's and Women's began over a year ago, when Mapp, a retired banker, according to WKRG-TV, saw a story on television about the nurses and volunteers there. He decided to get involved, making the 45-minute drive from his home in the Fairhope, Alabama to Mobile, as People noted. And there, he fell in love. “I’m 81 years old,” he told the magazine. “And one of the neatest things I’ve ever done is being around those precious babies, and the nurses that take care of them."
As a nurse explained on a hospital video on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website in a story about Mapp, hands-on cuddling help for the little ones is especially appreciated.
Most new parents cannot stay at the hospital around-the-clock due to pressing daily responsibilities such as work and caring for other children at home, putting intense pressure on nurses to make sure all teeny patients have one-on-one attention.
And while many people would be terrified to hold such fragile little bundles of joy, Mapp told People he gets a lot out of it: "I’m sitting there, holding these precious little babies, and in my mind, I think, ‘What are they gonna be when they grow up... I just imagine all kinds of things.”
One of the first things the money will be used for is to purchase special crib beds for the teeniest babies, who weigh less than a pound, as WKRG reported. And this is hardly his first good deed; Mapp's foundation has already given out 600 grants that have helped free clinics, drug rehab programs, and food banks, as WKRG reported.
This story just makes me lose it (and I'm an ugly crier), the idea of a grandpa putting so much of his own time, love and energy into other people's babies, just when they need help the most.
Let's try to remember on days where it seems like the news is only bad that there's always an example like this out there, of unexpected acts of kindness just for kindness' sake.