There is a very special lady living in Fort Worth, Texas. Her name is Lisa Grubbs and she is the founder of a special organization called NICU Helping Hands, which is an organization that helps families and their babies that are in the neonatal intensive care unit. Many of these tiny babies never live long enough to make it home. Grubbs saw a need and wanted to do something special for those babies who do not survive so she started repurposing wedding dresses and sewing them into “angel gowns” for their burials. Recently, Grubbs teamed up with a local television station (WFAA) for a four-day Angel Gown Campaign asking people in the Dallas, Fort Worth area to donate their wedding dresses, and the response was phenomenal, bringing in hundreds of dresses.
Every dress that was donated to the angel gown campaign came with its own unique story. One bride in particular loved her dress and hated to part with it, but as she handed it over and tears ran down her face, she said she knew, without a doubt, that this was her dress’ destiny.
Another woman donated her wedding dress, but before saying a final goodbye, she cut out a small section that could be handed down to her daughter so that one day when she grows up and is ready to get married, she will have a piece of her mother’s dress for her bouquet.
Families of the babies are hurting so badly from the loss of their little angels that Grubbs said she wants to help them in some small way, and what better way than making them a one of a kind angel gown to lay their precious angel to rest in.
Grubbs said its meaningful work that she enjoys and women everywhere are eager to donate their wedding dresses once they learn about her cause. She received a dress from one woman whose story mirrored those she is trying so desperately to help; she too had lost a child after spending some time in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Wedding much like the birth of a baby signify hope and the start of a new life. Grubbs says she believes the angel gown campaign that brings in hundreds of wedding dresses is that “full circle” for these children who are so loved, yet never make it home. She hopes “the gowns help parents feel like their precious baby is being wrapped in love from a bride.”
Each donated dress makes one dozen or more angel gowns. Each angel gown is made with love and “symbolizes the heart of a wedding dress that carries the meaning of beginning to end.” Once the angel gowns are completed, they are donated to different hospital neonatal intensive care units and given to parents at the time of their baby’s passing.
Grubbs is married to a doctor who specializes in the care of premature babies, and she “believes the passing of a child is a sacred event that should be honored.” But Grubbs is not the only one who feels this way. Amy Vickers, a former neonatal intensive care unit nurse also saw the need for the angel gown campaign and helps sew the gowns.
Vickers said before angel gowns, babies were merely wrapped in little blankets or even washcloths depending on their size because the hospital did not have much to offer those families. And while this small token of love does not take the hurt away, because nothing ever could, she hopes it will help the families feel like their baby’s life had meaning and that they were special.
Many other women volunteer as seamstresses and work alone in the privacy of their homes, each having their own reason for joining the cause. One lady sews angel gowns in memory of a son she lost shortly after birth more than thirty years ago.
While Grubbs and her team of volunteer seamstresses have hundreds of gowns to work from, the need far exceeds supply because sadly, too many babies never make it home. Therefore, the angel gown campaign will go on and hopefully will continue to bring in hundreds more wedding dresses.
Opinion By Donna W. Martin