Angel Gowns for Dignity started with Susan Breshears and I; wanting to give back to families who suffered a loss of an angel baby. We thought that we would just start out gifting Angel Gowns to our local Hospital; we did not expect this kind gesture to reach out to 8 different states in the U.S and 1 province in Canada as fast as it did!
On March 26th, 2014 I shared a link on my Facebook page. It was about “NICU Helping Hands” out of Texas. They also take donated Wedding Dresses and turn them into Angel Gowns. They then give a one time gift to hospitals for families that lose their infant. The Angel Baby can be laid to rest in this gown, or the parents can take it home for a keep sake. I have 3 Angels and an Angel Gown myself from one of my losses. I wanted to spread the word about infant loss and how important it is that people take time to remember these Angels that have gone too soon. Susan saw this post. She then contacted Marian Regional Medical Center in their home town to see if anyone was gifting Angel Gowns to them. Susan felt that God put this on her heart to make this happen for the families in their community. The NICU director called her back within 3 hours to not only say they did not have anything like this there, but to also say that they would gladly accept such gifts.
Over the next several days Susan & I met up with a friend and started this crazy adventure. We shared patterns and brain stormed. Susan also contacted “Angel Gowns by Michelle” and asked if she would share her Angel Gown Patterns. Michelle agreed, with one condition; Angel Gowns for Dignity may never try to sell the Angel Gowns that are made. Of course we agreed instantly because that’s not what this gift is about; It’s about giving back to families, helping them heal from their horrible loss.
Picking a name for this group wasn’t that difficult. Susan kept coming back to the word “Dignity”, she felt that these Angels be dignified in death. Angel Gowns for Dignity was started.
We started to reach out to friends and family on and off Facebook. The word of needing donated wedding dresses started to spread like wild fire. We started our own group on Facebook on April 18th, 2014. The meaning of the donated wedding dress is “A new beginning” just like when a bride gets married, on her wedding day starts a new beginning. For these families that lose their Angel babies, it is also a new beginning…. So many generous ladies came forward and wanted to donate their dresses to this wonderful cause. Some in memory of Angels that they have lost themselves and some that donated in memory of a sibling or friend. By April 24th 2014 the Facebook group had 150 members. Just within the first month the group received well over 20 wedding dresses. By June 2014 there was 400 members and today (July 10th, 2015) nearly 1,300 members and also a Facebook page.
Thanks to our friends and family members sharing our story, we had members coming forward wanting to sew these precious gifts. What started out with only 5 or so seamstresses, is now well past 20 in 8 different states who provide Angel Gowns to hospitals in their community. Not only do these seamstresses sew Angel Gowns they also make a gift for the donor of the wedding dress. A small draw string purse or a small ring bear pillow will be given back to the donor of that dress. We provide two Angel Gowns for the families that lose their Angel baby. One for their Angel to be laid to rest in and one for the mother and father to take home with them to hold on too. This helps with the healing process, I received an Angel Gown with one of my losses, I can take it out each year and hold on to it. This is why we offer two Angel Gowns. Of course if someone reaches out to us and needs an Angel Gown that did not recently receive one at their local hospital; we will do our best to over night the Gowns to the families in need.
Throughout the California Angel Gowns for Dignity has over 10 drop off locations. We have added “A-list” team members to help with this growing charity. Dannielle Jarnesky stores the dresses, helps with inventory, and organizes fundraising opportunities. We also have many ladies that help deconstruct dresses for seamstresses that may not want to go through that process before sewing. There are so many volunteers in this group that have helped make Angel Gowns for Dignity what it is today.
Our main goal at Angel Gowns for Dignity is to have volunteer sewing groups in every community providing Angel Gowns for their local hospitals. No family should have to lay their Angel baby to rest in anything else, but a Angel Gown sewn with love.
To learn the various ways to reach us directly please visit our Contact Us page
Please help support our volunteer seamstresses with supplies to create these amazing Angel Gowns!