It might seem strange doing an overview of the previous year in April, but it finally feels like spring here in South Carolina, and a time for new beginnings. So in that vein, here is a look back at 2013 and what we are expecting and praying for in the next year.
The most significant event of 2013 was probably the beginning of the Mommy to Mommy Outreach (M2M) by Naomi's Circle members Sarah Hackett and Rachel Raper. Since M2M launched, several hundred Brie Bags and Embracing Evan bears have been distributed to local hospitals to be given to newly bereaved parents. Not long after it began, M2M was featured as a news item on WISTV and on a local radio show associated with the station. Media coverage of Naomi's Circle expanded again in the fall when the ministry and its founders, Eric and Kristi Bothur, were featured in the magazine Reach Out Columbia.
As Mommy to Mommy Outreach has gotten underway, we have found many eager to partner with us. A craft day in September brought out nearly a dozen volunteers ready to cut fabric, sew bags and diapers, and make memorial keychains. Naomi's Circle was also adopted as an outreach project by the Northeast Military MOPS chapter that meets at Northeast United Methodist Church in Columbia, SC.
Our support group that meets in NE Columbia has grown this year, as has our online presence, both through our website and on Facebook. June saw our second annual family celebration as we gathered for a meal and to release sky lanterns in memory of our babies in Heaven. In August, we were grateful to Olive Garden on two Notch Road for providing a special lasagna meal so we could meet as couples and talk about some ways that loss impacts a marriage. The Fall season brought about our first weekly Bible study as we worked through the book Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow by Teske Drake, followed in January 2014 by a study of the book Hannah's Hope by Jennifer Saake. We also began our Wrap Your Rainbow outreach to local moms of "rainbow babies" (born after a loss), and we published the booklet "How Can I Help?" to share with the nursing students (most from Midlands Technical College) who observe at our support group meetings every other month.
What does 2014 hold for Naomi's Circle? Hopefully, and prayerfully, more of the same - reaching out to parents who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss through our website, support group, Mommy to Mommy Outreach, and additional weekly Bible studies as there is local interest. We want to publicize our website more by sharing our brochure with local OB offices, hospitals, counseling centers, and churches. We would like to print additional copies of our booklet How Can I Help? Suggestions for health professionals from moms who have traveled the road of pregnancy loss or infant death and distribute it to local obstetrician offices. We would also like to expand the reach of our ministry by going beyond the Midlands area and beginning to include resources in other parts of South Carolina.
Can you help?
There are many ways we need help.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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 email@example.com.
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 members Rachel Raper and Sarah Hackett were featured recently on WIS-TV news. They shared about the Mommy to Mommy Outreach that they have begun and invited others to take part.
Tonight (Sunday, May 26), Sarah Hackett and Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur will be interviewed for Brandon Wilson's radio show on 103.1 FM (KISS FM). Tune in at 6:00 p.m. to hear them share about this outreach and about Naomi's Circle in general.
We praise God for these opportunities to spread the word in Columbia, SC, that bereaved parents are not alone. We welcome the chance to share our story and these resources with others. If you would like us to share our ministry with your church or civic organization, or with a local media outlet, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 728-1162.
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