myFace patient Nathaniel Newman and his family

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
– Romeo & Juliet (2.1. 43-44)

Whether forced upon you by some required college coursework or if you’re a scholar of English Literature, we have all at some point in our life referenced this famous line from Shakespeare. At a minimum we have been confronted with the topic so eloquently captured by this simple expression of love: do names matter?

This very topic sprang into my head the very moment I heard of the change of The National Foundation of Facial Reconstruction name to myFace. To be completely honest, my initial reaction was negative. The NFFR had been a part of our family’s life for 10 years. Now, new people are coming on board and changing it all. HOW DARE THEM!

You see, families like mine, families who have children with craniofacial differences, have become so enamored with and reliant on the NFFR that any change, even as slight as a name, can only be viewed as an act of heresy. Right? In times of financial hardship, families of the NFFR knew they would never be turned away from world-class healthcare for their loved ones. In times of emotional crisis, and in this journey, there will be many, the NFFR has worked to ensure the resources families need are available to them. When you need a place to lay your head during stays at NYU, it is the NFFR that provides respite and a little touch of home. And over time, each and every family of the NFFR simply grows to love everyone at both the foundation and The Institute for Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.

Well, the past 12-18 months have brought change to our families that I can only describe as epic. Changes both good and, in some ways, bad. How amazing is the new IRPS location? Impossible without the tireless efforts of the NFFR. We all felt a tear in our heart when we heard that Whitney Burnett, former Executive Director of the NFFR, would finally embark on her well-earned retirement. And then, as we have all feared for lord knows how long, our beloved Dr. Joseph McCarthy announced his retirement. I would be lying if I did not admit to weeping. The enormity of all these changes hit me like freight train.

You see for 10 years, no matter what was thrown at us, we know the NFFR and the familiar faces would be there to take care of us? Should we change hospitals? Will everything that was built over the past years of the partnership between the NFFR and IRPS come crumbling down? If you are part of this intimate family we call our own, you must admit to these same thoughts!

Those who know me well know I do not keep thoughts like these to myself. I sought answers and assurances. My first call, as always, was the nurse practitioner at IRPS, Pat Chibbaro. Her advice? Wait to meet the new team before you rush to judgment. Simple, sage advice as always.

Then, something wonderful and unexpected happened. Carolyn Spector, our new executive director reached out to me personally. Wow… what passion and enthusiasm! I then met Erin, Kir, Dina, Saulo and Eddie, the rest of our new team. Talk about THE A-TEAM! I listened to their exciting ideas for the future growth and expansion of our foundation. I sat smiling as I learned more about the team of people that would take the reins. I found each and every one of them to be compassionate and completely committed to ensuring the continuity of services we have all come to rely on. But perhaps most promising was their concerted effort and desire to take the NFFR to even greater heights.

So now we are myFace! I am so excited about the future. The direction the new team will take us and the national recognition they seek for this amazing foundation can only be viewed as tremendously positive.

Romeo cries out to his love… “call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized; Henceforth I will never be Romeo”(2.1.50-51). Well, henceforth we shall no longer be the NFFR. Today, tomorrow and into the future we are now myFace. And the rose still smells as sweet!

By Russell Newman, father of Nathaniel Newman


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