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Interview with Founders of Brigid's Path, Executive Directors, Jill Kingston, and Deanna Murphy - Pt. 1

(L to R) Jill Kingston and Deanna Murphy from Brigid’s Path accept the $10,000 check from Julie Italiano and Steve Bandy from Modern Office Methods at the Rusty Ball in Cincinnati – November 8, 2014. Photo via

Under the innovation, Brigid’s Path, families have a chance to succeed with a mission to restore the health of babies born addicted, while moms retain custody of their babies and get help. With the development of a children's crisis care facility, babies receive treatment and therapy under the supervision of trained staff members from local hospitals who volunteer their time and skills. The founders, Jill Kingston, and Deanna Murphy explains that the community benefits through positivity by uplifting women and their babies. Plus, it cuts back on the cost going to taxpayers by eighty-percent. In an extended interview with the founders, they each discuss their personal journeys leading up to the foundation of their organization, the potential impact of  this new development, and how they gained the generosity from the people within the community. 

Below, is part one.

The Path’s Beginning

Lean In Dayton: How did the two of you come to the idea to develop the organization, Brigid's Path?

Jill Kingston: We are both teachers. We stayed home for the last 12, 13 years. Two years ago, my family became a foster family. The day we got our [foster parent] license from our caseworker, they called us that night with a three-pound baby who needed a place to live. That night, we went to pick up the three-pound baby from the hospital, who was withdrawing from heroin. I really didn't know what that meant because while training as a foster parent, they didn't give us a lot-- we knew that drugs were involved in a lot of these families that were losing their children. However, there was not a lot of information about this special baby that we knew would be withdrawing from heroin. I guess I can say that very night, I knew that this baby was so different. Deanna had lived just down the street from me and came over to bring me burp cloths. I didn't have anything but a crib and a car seat. I really wasn't equipped to have a baby the very same day that I got licensed. I was feeding this baby just a teeny little bottle and he drank all of it. I was so happy because it seemed he was going to thrive and do well. Yet, he started to vomit and aspirate. Then he stopped breathing. I was holding him, rubbing his back and kind of getting nervous at this point because I felt uncomfortable. I have three children of my own who are 9, 11 and 13. I’m very comfortable with babies but this guy, he wasn't responding. During this time, Deanna is picking up the phone to call 911 because we thought, “Oh my gosh, we don't want this baby to be unresponsive.”

Eventually, he started breathing again and seemed okay. Though, that was the moment I realized how different of a baby he was and what “special needs” meant. Subsequently, I started doing some research on the internet to learn how to care for babies with these particular needs. Within a month, I had another baby withdrawing from heroin. So I had two. It was like having twins.

Lean In Dayton: Were you told ahead of time that these infants were withdrawing from heroin?

Jill Kingston: They do tell you when they call. They ask if you will take them. They give you everything that they know about that child. There's been calls where babies have been removed from mom and we know nothing about the baby. However when you get them straight from the hospital, they tell you every medical detail that they know. In my case, I did know. I realized at that point, if I am just one family in the Miami Valley area with two babies withdrawing from heroin, how bad was this epidemic? I just started doing some research. Through my research, I found a place in West Virginia called Lily’s Place; the owner was opening a newborn recovery center because the hospital, Huntington was overwhelmed with babies being born addicted. I told Deanna to follow her [the owner of Lily’s Place] on Facebook. Later, I explained to Deanna that I wanted to go and see what she [Lily's Place] is doing because I felt a call to do something bigger and Deanna said, “Let’s just drive out there.” In May 2014, we drove to West Virginia to visit the facility. It was not operational at the time. It wasn't until about six months later that Lily’s Place was up and running.

After leaving the facility, I started to think how I loved the model that had been created; some things I saw I would do differently, but it inspired me to want to do that here. And I turned to Deanna and explained that I felt like we were supposed to do this together and I expressed that she is here for a reason. And she said...

Deanna Murphy: No way. Good luck with that! (A bit of laughter)

Jill Kingston: I knew something was happening here. I knew she was meant to help. I kind of knew her history. (Listen to audio on Jill Kingston’s and Deanna Murphy’s story.)

Deanna Murphy: I just wasn't sure that that was the right thing for me. I actually had started in prayer about seven months prior about where the Lord would sort of have me when my son went off to kindergarten the following fall. He was going to kindergarten in the fall of 2014. I began almost a year before attempting to figure me out - What was I going to do after being a stay-at-home mom for years? I had let my teaching license go. I just wasn't sure where I was supposed to go. Actually, I took a trip with a friend to California in November, while attempting to find myself. I had a great time in California, but I came home with nothing. No direction. No guidance. I had been following Jill and her family with their babies and encouraging them in their journey, but I never ever envisioned myself in this position. As we were driving home in the van that day, she said, “We can do this”. We went back and forth a little in the car. However, it didn't take very long for me to hop on board because I don’t think I've been more prepared to do anything by virtue of my life. Because I was one of these babies, - My mother was a drug addict. I was born of teenage parents in the 70s; they married because they felt they had an obligation because my mother was pregnant with me. My mother dropped out of high school to give birth to me and their marriage didn't last very long, as many teenage marriages don't. So I went to live with my mother and in the 70s that's kind of what happens. It wasn't a lot of due process. There wasn't a lot of figuring out what this is about, just baby belongs with mom. I went to live with my mother in an apartment above a shoe store in a rural town in Miami County. It wasn't very long before her addiction got the best of her then she just couldn't do it anymore. My Dad told me he got a call from a friend that I was in the apartment alone...

Interviewed by Julene Allen

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Julene Allen