The Smiths: A Caring Respite


Every first-time parent feels it. The worry. The fear. Can I do this? Will I be enough for my child?

Then the hospital discharges you or the doula leaves your house and you panic. You’re leaving us on our own to care for this tiny human being?

Kieyana Smith had those worries, too.

Kieyana is a 23-year-old Army veteran, who has already been through more than her fair share of trauma in her life. Then, during her pregnancy last year, she began to have seizures. She had fainting spells. At 31 weeks she was rushed to the hospital (almost 100 miles away from her home in Sierra Vista) for an emergency C-section.

Kieyana had more reason than most first-time parents to worry. But then she thought about her family.

She thought about her girlfriend, Jordon, who is a mom herself and with whom Kieyana was helping to raise 3-year-old Arianna. She thought about her mom, Vashanda, and her example as a caring and supportive parent. She thought about her grandmother, Linda, and her love and wisdom. She thought about her brother, and her aunt, and her cousins, and so many others. If only she could have everyone by her side, she could do this.

On October 30, 2019, Kieyana gave birth to Aubrie Alaya Smith. Tiny. Vulnerable. But Aubrie had her mom and her mom had her family.

Aubrie stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 55 days. During that time, Kieyana, Jordon, and Arianna stayed together at the Ronald McDonald House, just a few minutes from the hospital. And when Jordon needed to return to Sierra Vista to work, Vashanda could come up and be with Kieyana. Or Linda. Or Isaiah, her brother.

At the Ronald McDonald House, families stay at what Kieyana likes to call her “home-away-from-home.” They can stay for as long as they need. They are cared for by their own family and by a family of loving volunteers and staff.

“Everybody is kind and welcoming,” said Kieyana. “You come downstairs in the morning, and everybody’s welcoming you, ‘Hey, good morning. How are you doing? Do you need anything?’”

While the worries never go away, at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona the burden of those worries is shared by our community. The worries about Aubrie’s health are shared by the doctors and nurses. The worries about what to eat are shared by the Chef for a Day volunteers. The worries about how to pay for it all are shared by the many donors who support our Ronald McDonald House.

Because of them, because of you, families like Kieyana’s don’t have to pay a penny to stay here. Because of your continued support, Kieyana, Aubrie and their family have their “home-away-from-home” on their future trips for Aubrie’s medical care in Tucson.

Everyone does his or her part. It all makes a difference. It all helps Kieyana worry a little bit less so she can give the best to her baby.

If possible, consider a donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona to help moms like Kieyana stay near the hospital while their newborn receives medical care.

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