Community Connections: Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies
by Jen Burgess
Losing a baby whether through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death must be one of the worst experiences any family can suffer.
In times gone by, people were encouraged to move on quickly and their grief wasn’t properly acknowledged.
A group in the United States came up with the idea of supporting these families by providing beautiful burial outfits for their babies. In 2014.
Sarah McVeigh in New South Wales introduced the idea to Australia and since then women all over the country have donated their wedding dresses to be transformed into Angel Gowns.
An Angel Gown package comes with gown, bonnet, booties, nappy, angel wrap or blanket and a keepsake for the family.
A single wedding dress can make anywhere from 12-50 Angel Gowns for Angel Babies to be used in Australian Hospitals and funeral homes. Urgent requests are also made by individual families or friends.
Volunteers do all the deconstruction, sewing, knitting, crochet and creation of keepsakes for the Angel Gown packages but there are other volunteer roles that are necessary to make the organisation run smoothly.
According to Kylie Aplin, State Manager for South Australia, the group currently has about twenty volunteers here. Kylie joined up within the first few months of the organisation starting in 2014 as an area representative and more recently took on the role of the State Manager. She is responsible for the SA Team and is urgently seeking more volunteers in SA to become Area Representatives, seamstresses, keepsake makers and knitters/crocheters.
Kylie will also organise the collection of donated gowns if people would like to donate their wedding gowns, brides-maid and formal attire to this amazing organisation.
Area representatives need to have access to a phone, computer, Internet and printer. They are required to contact donors and arrange a suitable time to meet, to collect the donation, photograph it and forward it to head office. They fill in a weekly report that is sent to the State Manager outlining what they have collected each week.
Seamstresses need to have a sewing machine and have basic sewing skills (including sewing around corners). A pattern and some material to make a practice gown Is provided and when the volunteer completes this task at an acceptable level, they are approved and added to the seamstress group.
Kylie said that due to the distance between volunteers it is hard for them to meet but this will be encouraged as more SA volunteers come on board. The State Manager and Territory Manager keep in regular contact with all the volunteers and there is a group chat page and communication via email and phone as well.
Volunteers get a great deal of satisfaction from creating the tiny gowns/wraps/beanies etc. that are given to families at the worst lime in their lives. They also get a great sense of achievement from working with other volunteers towards a common goal.
Interested people can go to the website www.angelgowns.org.au and fill in the “Interest in becoming an Angel Gowns volunteer” form and the volunteer recruitment officer will contact them with more details, or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more Information.
Learn more about Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies at the website http://angelgowns.org.au/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/angelgownsforaustralianbabies
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