Our Mommy to Mommy Outreach continues to have an impact in local hospitals. Tuesday, December 3, Rachel Raper and Sarah Hackett made more deliveries of Brie Bags and Embracing Evan bears at Palmetto Baptist and Palmetto Richland Hospitals. This time, they were joined by fellow Naomi's Circle member Alexa Bigwarfe who was donating copies of the book Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother.
This fall, Alexa spearheaded a collaborative effort of more than thirty mothers and several fathers who compiled their experiences into this collection of stories and "survival tips" for parents unexpectedly thrust onto the road of pregnancy, infant, and child loss. Five members of Naomi's Circle are featured - Alexa, Sarah, and Rachel, along with Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur and her husband Eric. With the Foreword written by infant loss expert Sherokee Ilse of Babies Remembered, the book released during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month in October and immediately shot up to the #1 place on Amazon in the "Motherhood" category.
Help is needed with both of these outreaches - Mommy to Mommy needs funds to pay for books and bears for the Brie Bags, and Alexa is now raising the funds to donate Sunshine After the Storm to hospitals and support groups across the country. To help with Mommy to Mommy outreach, see our "I Want to Help" page, and to assist with donations of Sunshine After the Storm, visit the Sunshine After the Storm website at http://sunshineafterstorm.us/.
Are you thinking of year-end giving? We would love for you to consider Naomi's Circle. The main financial need we have is funding for our Mommy to Mommy Outreach, providing fifteen Brie Bags per month to three Columbia-area hospitals (Palmetto Baptist, Palmetto Richland, and Lexington Medical Center) and preparing to provide Hope Bags to local obstetrician offices, beginning in 2014.
Every three months, we make purchases for the next quarter's Brie Bags. Our biggest expenses are the Embracing Evan bears (approximately $8 each) and the book Empty Cradle, Full Heart (including shipping, also about $7 each, which the publisher Loyola Press gives us at a discount). We also purchase fabric for the bags, diapers, and hats and we purchase Jenga-style blocks (usually at consignment stores) for our Hope Bag memorial key chains. Our ongoing quarterly M2M Outreach expenses come to about $300 every three months.
Would you be willing to help? Because we operate as a ministry under the umbrella of Spring Valley Baptist Church, donations to Naomi's Circle through the church are tax-deductible. See our Donations page for more information about how to give online through Spring Valley Baptist Church. If you would like to invite us to share with your church or civic organization about our ministry, or if you would like to give of your time and crafting skills for this ministry, please contact us through our M2M page or via e-mail (email@example.com).
Nine women gathered at Spring Valley Baptist Church on Saturday, September 4, for the first Naomi's Circle Craft Day, to work on projects for the Mommy to Mommy Outreach. Over the next couple of hours, the pleasant chatter of friends getting acquainted and the hum of sewing machines filled the room as the volunteers worked together to create items meant to encourage parents at one of the hardest moments they would endure - the death of their baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
At one table, women cut flannel pieces that would be made into memorial cloth diapers, soft hats, as well as matching drawstring "Brie Bags" - bags that would hold these precious items as well as the book Empty Cradle, Full Heart, an Embracing Evan teddy bear, and information about Naomi's Circle.
At the next table, Mommy to Mommy Outreach founders Sarah Hackett and Rachel Raper led the sewing part of the project, carefully stitching together the handmade portions of the Brie Bags. Since the beginning of the summer, they have distributed forty-five Brie Bags to three local hospitals - Lexington Medical Center, Palmetto Baptist, and Palmetto Richland - to be shared with bereaved parents. They have committed to providing five bags per month at each hospital.
At the third table, Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur led the rest of the women in making memorial key chains by gluing patterned scrapbook paper onto small Jenga-game-style blocks and then sealing them with Mod Podge. After we add an eye screw and key ring, they will be ready to be personalized by using a permanent marker to write a name, Scripture, date, or other meaningful words. These will be shared with a select number of local doctor's offices - about fifteen per month for each office - to be given, along with helpful information, to patients experiencing a loss.
Several complete Brie Bags and over twenty key chains were finished thanks to Saturday's volunteers! However, the need is ongoing and, as is often the case in ministry, the workers are few. Would you like to help?
We need individuals to help with both sewing Brie Bags and contents and with making memorial key chains - both as they are able and as a regular part of our Mommy to Mommy Craft Team. We need church and community groups that will invite us in to share our story and lead them in a Naomi's Circle Craft Day of their own. We need groups to adopt a doctor's office or hospital for a month or more, committing to making the items need during those times. We also need people to pray that this work will be led by the Lord and that we will be sensitive to His leading.
Whether or not you have experienced the loss of a baby yourself, through your involvement, you can play a key role in letting bereaved parents know that they are not alone, and that God has not forgotten them. For more information about any of these, to donate fabric or blocks, or to help financially, please contact us through our Outreach page or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's summer, but many churches are already planning for the fall. Do you have a group in your church that would like a community service project to help with? Contact us about helping our Mommy to Mommy Outreach by cutting out fabric pieces for our memorial bags, diapers, and caps; by following simple tutorials to sew; or by making simple memorial key chains for us to share with parents who have lost a baby through miscarriage.
We will provide the materials and instructions, but we need your time and skills to help meet our monthly goal of providing 15 Brie Bags and Embracing Evan bears to Lexington Medical Center and Palmetto Baptist. You can also donate financially to help purchase the bears and books that go in the bags. Contact us for more information! We will gladly talk with you about what role you can play in this important local ministry of care and compassion. We are also happy to have someone from Naomi's Circle come and speak to your group about the work we are doing and how else you can be involved in sharing it with others.
Naomi's Circle has been in existence for three years now, but only for the last two years have we had our own support group, meeting at Spring Valley Baptist Church the second Thursday of every month. The group began as a Pregnancy After Loss support group with three members. After all three ladies had delivered healthy babies, other women began coming. Each woman's history of loss was different, but all had children on Earth as well as children in Heaven, and so the name of the group was changed to P/PALS - Pregnancy and Parenting After Loss.
Over time, a spirit of outreach to other bereaved parents has grown in the group, and a specific ministry has developed, spearheaded by members Sarah Hackett and Rachel Raper.
Sarah and Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur met in the Memories support group at Lexington Medical Center early in 2011, shortly after Sarah's daughter Brie had been stillborn. Sarah became one of the original members of the Naomi's Circle PAL group when she became pregnant later that year, and she gave birth to a healthy daughter early in 2012. "Ever since my daughter Brie passed away, it has been heavy on my heart to reach out to other ladies going through the loss of a pregnancy," Sarah shares. This spring, she decided to begin making "Brie Bags", drawstring flannel bags filled with a set of flannel diapers from as little as 19 weeks to full term, a matching flannel hat, information about other resources, and an encouraging book about the loss of a baby. The ministry is called Mommy to Mommy Outreach.
Sarah shared her idea with the Naomi's Circle members, and Rachel immediately offered to be a part of it. Rachel joined Naomi's Circle in 2012 after the death of her second child, her son Evan Michael, late in her third trimester. "Leaving the hospital only twelve hours after Evan's stillbirth left an unexplainable sense of shock, emptiness, and bewilderment," says Rachel. "My arms and my womb were empty and my heart was broken." Rachel developed the idea of "Embracing Evan" teddy bears that could be included in the Brie Bags. Each bear includes the Scripture verse 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. "I pray that each woman who receives a bear will be comforted in her initial moments of pain in such a simple way."
Mommy to Mommy Outreach has already donated bags to Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina. Some bags have also been mailed to parents they have learned of through word of mouth, although the focus for now is going to remain on Columbia-area hospitals. Would you like to help? Assistance is needed in many ways - donating flannel to make the bags, diapers, and hats; people to sew these items; and money to cover the cost of materials, books, and bears.
If you would like to be a part of this, please contact Naomi's Circle at email@example.com for patterns or to know how to donate material. You may also contact Mommy to Mommy Outreach directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the blog at www.mommytomommyoutreach.blogspot.com. Tax-deductible financial donations may be made online at Spring Valley Baptist Church (choose "Designated" and indicate that it is for "Naomi's Circle-Mommy to Mommy Outreach"), or via mail (Spring Valley Baptist Church, 91 Polo Road, Columbia, SC, 29223).
Naomi's Circle News
Here you will find articles intended to help you in your journey. Some will be reviews of websites and books. Some will be devotionals, some general articles, and some will be guest bloggers. Feel free to comment and let us know if there is something you would like to see addressed here.
Week 1: Devotional
Week 2: General article about loss
Week 3: Testimony/guest blogger
Week 4: Website/book Review