Recently, my wife Maggie and I welcomed our first child into the world. Taytum Grace LaGrange decided to make her presence felt three weeks ahead of schedule (she is a LaGrange; we don't believe in time). We headed to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center for an unrelated illness and ended up with a precious bundle of joy not thirty hours later. An unexpected twist left my wife and me on the highest mountain we had ever experienced.

Little did we know, those moments would be fleeting.


Not but twenty-four hours after Taytum made her first guest appearance into the world, a nurse barged into our room with a somber face while we were packing our things, heading off into the sunset that was our new life. "Something is wrong" were her words. Now granted, I had yet to be a parent for more than three days, but these feel like the worst words a parent can hear.

We learned that our perfect little girl had a heart that was not so perfect. Two holes in our kiddo's heart led my wife and me to be absolutely gutted. My ride home with my new family was quickly turned into a stale ambulance ride up to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

What followed were six of the most heart-wrenching, unfathomable, and some of the most joyous days of my life. We drenched the NICU floor in our tears. Our bodies ached for our little one and the little ones all around us fighting battles they were seemingly too small to carry. Moments like these have a way of doing two things to our souls. 1). They define who we are. We can, at times, utterly embody a crisis and never move past or through our hurt. Or 2). They can refine us.

Often, what can differentiate between these two beings is the actions of those close to us.

When my wife and I were facing the largest crisis in our young marriage (and, quite frankly, our lives), we felt defeated, downtrodden, and depressed. But not once did we feel alone. Not only were our families instrumental in taking care of our being, but the outpouring of support from The Patterson Foundation (TPF) was something we never saw coming. It was the first time I fully comprehended that TPFisms are more than just unique quips we have hanging around our offices. It is a genuine way of being embodied by all who live and breathe the work. The values that guide TPF in strengthening people, organizations, and communities are also values that, if we let them, can guide our personal lives.

Caring, Connecting, Collaborating, Contributing, and Creating — The Five C's are some of TPF's guiding ideas, and even deeper than that, it is woven into TPF's DNA. When we find ourselves slipping into the cope phase of the Cope, Adapt, Innovate model, the Five C's can be a guidepost for how to interact with others. How are we demonstrating caring for our community members, teammates, and neighbors?

TPF President and CEO Debra Jacobs is the author of TPF's "Caring Squads." A group dedicated to providing for and caring for one of us who may be facing difficult times. Who are your caring squads? When something goes array in our lives or our organizations, who are the people speaking life and care into us? How can you be that for others?

When the storms come, how do we connect with folks? Sometimes the feeling of abandonment can be worse than what we are walking through. What does it take for our organizations to be places where connection is fostered even in darker times?

Can we continue to steward collaboration and contribution with one another? Do we offer emotional outlets as an organization?

Lastly, how do we move into creating again? What does it take for us as people, organizations, and communities to help gently and carefully walk each other through coping and adapting to land back in the place of innovation and creating?

Let's take crises and turn them into creative contributions brought forth through shared aspirations and collaboration used to connect one another to best care for our communities. If we let our circumstances define us, we will end up with stagnate lives, ineffective organizations, and communities that feel stale. But, if we can allow the struggle to refine who we are, we have a better chance of fostering wide participation and can better step into the world of possibilities.

My little girl has a long road ahead of her. There will most likely be plenty of twists, turns, and curves along the way. But we can rest easy knowing she was born into an extended TPF family that lives out values in their daily lives. From the flowers populating our counter to the Edible Arrangements and gift cards and notes galore, we have truly felt the Five Cs in action.

My challenge to you, the reader, is this: How can you live out The Five C's today?

5 Cs
If we each do our own little part in our corner of the universe, I truly believe we can bring about widespread change. However, it starts with us living out the things we say we believe. Let's do that together and see where the journey takes us.

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