What attracted you to volunteering for NICU Helping Hands?
My mother, who was also my best friend, passed away suddenly in September 2013. My grief was overwhelming. I wanted to do something special to honor my mom but could not find a cause I felt would honor her. In March of 2014, I was watching television and saw the original airing of the news clip that changed Lisa Grubbs’ life forever. Immediately I knew sewing angel gowns was a way I could honor my mother. The very next day I sent an email to Lisa and I was accepted as a volunteer seamstress. My mother taught me to sew at a very young age and using those skills to create Angel Gowns from wedding dresses has given me the opportunity to honor my mother.
Tell me a little about yourself—children, spouse, career, etc.
I was born in Tulsa, OK and my family moved to Iowa when I was a baby. After graduating from high school, I returned to Oklahoma for college. I have a nursing degree and worked in the Eastern Oklahoma Perinatal Center and the Surgical Intensive Care Unit in Tulsa, prior to my marriage. I have been married to my original husband for 36 years. We have one son who is 34 years old and works at Harvard University in Cambridge MA. I am currently the Director of Operations for the Chapter 13 Trustee in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
What types of things do you enjoy doing?
I love to volunteer and help others! In addition to my work with NICUHH, I am active in my local church and volunteer one day a week at a no-kill animal shelter. Additionally, I am on the Board of Directors for DaySpring Villa, the only certified, faith-based shelter for abused women and children and sexual trafficking victims in the state of Oklahoma. When I am not volunteering, I love to read historical novels and sew.
Is there anything else that you feel like is important to knowing more about you and why you are drawn to this cause?
My family had a secret that no one ever talked about. In April 1950, my parents had a baby boy born at 28 weeks due to a ruptured placenta. My mother was gravely ill and in a coma for 4 days. During those four days, her baby died and was buried. When she woke up, my 27 year old father had to tell my mother their first born child had died. The baby was not named, the baby was never held by one of his parents, and the baby was wrapped in a hospital blanket for burial. Since my mother’s death, my now 87 year old father has talked to me about this difficult time in his life and how “he did not know what to do.” I am drawn to the entire program of NICU Helping Hands because no young parent should face the death of a child alone.
What has it been like being a part of the Angel Gown Program?
Being part of the Angel Gown Program has blessed me in so many ways! I have met many ladies from across the United States that I now consider to be close friends. Working with a large group with common goals has been encouraging and has motivated me to stretch my sewing skills and learn to make gowns worthy of the precious angel babies that receive them. I have had the opportunity to help a young mother place an urgent request for a gown and have witnessed the overwhelming gratitude of the family when they see the beautiful gown created by a stranger for their precious child. The Angel Gown Program fills a need of grieving parents across the country and I am very proud to be a part of this organization. If I lived in Texas, I would quit my job and volunteer for this organization full time!