A woman from Hot Springs Village turned the first floor of her home into a workshop where she crafts tiny angel gowns for babies who never leave the hospital after a premature birth. It’s a simple, yet profoundly important ministry. Her work is being recognized nationwide and has been shared on social media. Patty Hauer knows all too well the heartbreaking loss of a child. As a former paramedic and coroner investigator for Scott and Dakota counties, she saw many infant deaths and found that the babies were often wrapped in old, ratty blankets. It was an experience that stayed with her.
Now, Hauer, who lives alone in her retirement home in Hot Springs Village, volunteers her time to help grieving families by making infant burial outfits for newborns that die during pregnancy or shortly after birth. She uses donated wedding dresses, formal gowns, and dress wear to make baby boy and girl funeral outfits. They are delivered to hospitals, birthing centers, and funeral homes free of charge.
Every wedding dress has a story, and so does every angel gown. Hundreds of brides around the world have taken their wedding dresses and put them to good use for infants who die in their mother’s arms, or after they are born. These little angel gowns help provide a moment of peace for parents who are struggling with their own grief after losing a child, and they serve as a reminder of the life that was lost.
The NICU is a place of miracles and hope, but it can also be a very difficult place for families. Some babies are born with a condition that can’t be treated, and they don’t make it through the medical procedures in the NICU. For these families, the joy of welcoming their newborn is quickly followed by the pain of grief and loss.
That’s why projects like Project NICU Helping Hands and Angel Gowns of South Bay are so important. Volunteers take worn and torn wedding dresses and transform them into bereavement gowns for babies who die in the NICU or before they leave.
They are delivered to hospitals, birthing centers, funeral homes, and directly to families who have experienced the unimaginable loss of a child. The project has already touched the lives of countless families, and they will continue to do so for years to come.
To learn more about the organization and how you can help, visit their website here. You can even follow the journey of your wedding dress to a developing country (Guatemala is currently where the dresses are going) and virtually meet the seamstress who made it all possible. It’s a truly unique way to make an impact. Thank you to our local community for their ongoing support of this wonderful organization!