Meet a Mom: Ashley Rodón - Greenwich Moms
Tonight’s Meet a Mom, Ashley Rodón, is a Mom of 3, and the Executive Director of Advocacy and Impact for the Nest Egg Foundation. Along with her husband, Yankees player Carlos Rodón, they founded The Willow Grant.
Ashley bravely shares her own struggles when trying to have a baby and how she turned their own heartbreak into a profound desire to dismantle the financial barriers and provide hope to couples grappling with infertility. Their aim is to raise awareness and funds for the foundation, offering hope to families seeking fertility treatments like IVF.
The Willow Grant, founded in honor of their miracle, Willow, helps others who have experienced recurrent loss.
On January 25th, at the Bruce Museum, you will have the opportunity to join Ashley in celebrating The Willow Grant and Nest Egg Foundation partnership and her plans for 2024.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally? Names/ages of kids, etc.?

I was born in a small Midwestern town. A few thousand people made up my everyday circle, turning life into a constant conversation wherever I went. These everyday personal dialogues shaped my love for community and friendship.

We chose to reside in Greenwich after my husband signed a contract to play baseball with the New York Yankees. With three children–Willow, Bo, and Silo–living in the hustle of the city wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing. The small-town vibes and tree-lined streets immediately felt like home to us.

Our family enjoys the outdoors. Most days you’ll catch us swimming in the pool, playing games in the grass, or throwing the ball to our big fluffy German Shepherd, Lefty. When indoors, you’ll find us watching Disney+ snuggled up with our two hairless cats, Momma Kitty and Ralph.

What do you love about Greenwich / what made you decide to move there/ how long have you been there?

We relocated to Greenwich last year and have developed a genuine fondness for the blend of small-town ambiance with urban conveniences. The fantastic shopping, delightful local cuisine, and unparalleled educational opportunities remind me daily why I cherish strolling through the neighborhoods and exploring the vibrance of Greenwich Avenue.

For those of us who aren’t familiar, please tell us about the Willow Grant and Nest Egg Foundation. 

The Willow Grant is a fund my husband and I founded in honor of our miracle, Willow. Following recurrent pregnancy loss, we questioned if we would ever welcome a healthy child into the world. After a challenging journey, we’ve realized the prevalence of this often overshadowed issue. Leveraging our platform, we aim to raise awareness and funds for the foundation, offering hope to families seeking fertility treatments like IVF. Our collaboration with the Nest Egg Foundation was a natural fit. My remarkable fellow board members, the application process, and evaluation panel made it an ideal partnership. In my role as Executive Director of Advocacy and Impact for the foundation, I am able to combine their extensive experience with our personal platform, and aspire to bring hope to numerous families in the Connecticut and New York area. Applications for our inaugural grant will open in the first quarter of the year.

What was your inspiration for starting the Willow Grant? 

As newlyweds, we decided we wanted to start a family. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as expected.

Our first pregnancy, a moment that felt like a blessing in itself, turned into heartbreak at the 12-week ultrasound in March of 2018. During the appointment, the quietness in the room and our doctor’s serious demeanor hinted at something being wrong. My heart shattered as she gently informed us that she couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat. I looked at my baby on the screen and felt my entire world crash in on me in an instant.

Our baby, a little boy, was not going to be with us, and I had to undergo a D&C procedure—a traumatic experience, to say the least. It was during this painful time that a compassionate nurse, who had experienced a similar loss, offered me solace and hope. Her words became my lifeline in navigating the grief and trauma.

Months passed, and we summoned the courage to try again, hoping for a different outcome. Discovering I was pregnant on Mother’s Day filled me with renewed hope and joy. However, tragedy struck again. Away from home in a hotel room on a rehab assignment trip for Carlos, I experienced another miscarriage, adding another traumatic night to our life. It was a devastating blow, but at that moment, I wanted to be strong. I knew I would do whatever it took to overcome this battle and have a child.

After the mortifying second loss, my journey took a different turn. I embarked on a quest for answers, seeking guidance from fertility specialists and holistic practitioners. Countless appointments and tests ensued; I vividly recall appointments where I underwent bloodwork—32 vials worth—to unravel the underlying causes of our struggles. While the medical investigations unveiled minor issues here and there, the entire process never burdened us with concerns about affording the treatment. We were fortunate in that aspect of our lives, knowing that we had the means and determination to do whatever was necessary.

When people inquire about the moment my daughter, Willow, came into this world, it evokes a cascade of emotions within me. The journey through miscarriages, the stories of friends who’ve experienced the loss of stillborn babies, all these moments flash through my mind. Until you’re holding your baby, hearing their cries, I don’t think the feeling of having a child truly settles in. That was my sentiment while undergoing ultrasounds, witnessing her heart beating strong, and realizing that this dream was no longer a distant hope; it was within my grasp. It’s a feeling that’s hard to articulate, especially within the realms of infertility. The peace would only arrive when she was in my arms. It’s a protective instinct that lingers each day—the desire to shield her from any harm, even the slightest bruise or cut. She’s the light that brightens every corner of my world, the result of countless prayers and hopes that finally materialized. She’s what many term as a rainbow baby—the symbol of hope and promise after the storm. Willow, our cherished daughter amongst two rambunctious, adorable sons, is the heart of our home. Willow is often leading the way with her playful antics and infectious laughter. Witnessing her carefree nature, listening to all of their laughter echoing through our home, I’m struck by the thought that this joy shouldn’t be limited by financial means. Every individual should have the opportunity to experience the delight of parenting, cherishing the daily moments, sharing laughter, dancing, and that unbreakable bond. She’s a reminder every day of what is motivating us to ensure that this profound happiness isn’t out of reach for anyone. The entire journey shed light on a sobering reality—I encountered firsthand the financial hurdles that are hindering other countless couples from achieving their dream of parenthood. Conversations with medical professionals affirmed a startling truth: the ability to build a family isn’t solely impeded by medical challenges but is significantly impeded by the exorbitant costs associated with fertility treatments. It’s disheartening that something as fundamental as starting a family is often categorized as an elective choice, disregarding the fact that infertility isn’t a chosen circumstance, but a daunting and often unforeseen challenge.

As I navigated this intricate web of medical consultations and emotional stress, a realization began to crystallize within me—a profound desire to dismantle these financial barriers and provide hope to couples grappling with infertility. The notion that financial constraints could prevent someone from achieving their dream of becoming a parent struck a chord deep within my husband and I’s hearts. After many late night talks our stance strengthened, echoing the sentiment that no one should ever be denied the opportunity to build a family due to financial constraints.

That realization fueled our mission—the creation of The Willow Grant.

What do you find the most challenging and most rewarding parts of your work with Willow Grant and Nest Egg Foundation? 

Challenges mostly arise from the legal aspects. Paperwork and adhering to proper due process can become overwhelming, but my determination to create an impact with something so personally significant outweighs it all. Undoubtedly, the most fulfilling aspect is the prospect of knowing that soon, there will be couples holding their newborns. At one point, these babies might have seemed like an unattainable dream to these families, yet we dedicate our finances and time to fulfill that dream.

Tell us about your upcoming Greenwich event! 

I’m thrilled to host a meet-and-greet at The Bruce Museum on January 25th.

To provide some backstory behind the event, one day, I was taking some what i call “self-care” time at Equinox in Greenwich while the kids were at school. I shared my story and message with Adam Vohra, who was in the early stages of starting his business, ARV Enterprises. In that moment, my message resonated with him, and he encouraged me to do more. His encouragement gave me the push I needed to take this opportunity and make the difference I’ve always wished to. Adam shared with me his business idea rooted in helping others and partnering with causes to raise awareness, and it felt like a perfect match.

We look forward to meeting community members who have been touched by infertility issues of their own. I’m eager to share my passion for The Willow Grant and highlight our partnership with the Nest Egg Foundation.

How do you find a balance with motherhood and your work with the Willow Grant? Any tips for the rest of the Moms out there? 

As I’m typing this at 11 PM, I realize that I manage my work and mom life similarly to most mothers—lots of planning and many late nights. However, I consider it a blessing to have a voice and platform that allows me to make a difference. Life holds meaning for me when I’m modeling the kind of person I want my children to become. I hope they remember all the fun activities we do, but more importantly, that their mom and dad were always willing to give back to the communities that have given us so much. On days when I feel worn down or tired, I’ll strap them into their car seats, convince them that we all need some Starbucks, and go for a nice drive through the backcountry while sipping my Venti Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade. Mom-shaming is lame—I’ll be the first mom to tell you that you’re doing amazing on your best day and your worst. Because we all have them!

What is your go to Mom outfit? 

I always joke that Lululemon should offer a mom discount because if I’m not in leggings and a tank top, there’s likely a significant event happening, date night, or I’m heading to Yankee Stadium.

What do you like to do to relax/have fun? 

I love the pool! I’m convinced my daughter and I share a Cancer horoscope that keeps us spending most of our days in the water. If I’m not in the pool, I’ll be lounging in the bath after bedtime, sipping on some sparkling water. I really enjoy a nice dinner out with my husband or best friend when my parents are in town to help with the kids. Food is the key to my heart.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read about my passion. I truly hope that over the coming years, we will get to share all the stories that come from the hard work and dedication we are putting into The Willow Grant.

We love to support local businesses. What are your fave places when you are in Greenwich to:

Grab coffee: Coffee For Good, also a great local nonprofit
Workout: Equinox
Go on a date night: Terra
Go out for a girls night: East End
Go out to dinner as a family: Did I mention I have three kids? Most nights we will eat at home then venture the avenue for some ice cream.
Have fun as a family: We do a lot of hide and seek, tag, and throw foam baseballs in our house. When we venture out we try to find a nice aquarium or zoo. Both kids could spend all day looking at and talking about animals.

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