One local woman is looking to help in the repurposing of wedding dresses for a cause dear to her heart.
Two months after her son, Malik, passed away, Cara Saba came across an organization called NICU Helping Hands that offers Angel Gowns to mothers impacted by a preterm birth.
The gowns are created from wedding dresses to offer grieving parents comfort and clothing for final photos or burial services.
“There’s such a need and people want to talk about this,” stated NICU Helping Hands Founder and Executive Director Lisa Grubbs. “There hasn’t been an opportunity until now. It’s a taboo subject most of the time. This gives people a way to discuss infant loss. There’s something hopeful about that start of life, about a wedding, and to me, it’s that full circle. This child who is so loved by its parents, being wrapped in love by a bride.”
Although Saba and her husband, Kyle, lost their son 18 weeks into her pregnancy in December, the couple decided they wanted an Angel Gown after hearing about the program in February.
Saba requested the gown so she could place it into a shadow box in memory of her son.
The white gown came wrapped in tissue with a poem attached by an angel pin. Saba placed it in a shadow box with black block letters spelling out her son’s name.
“It’s so pretty,” Saba recalled thinking of the dress. “I loved it.”
Now, Saba is collecting dresses from local women to send to the national organization. She’s received wedding dresses from Navy wives, friends and family stretching from Port Orchard to Bangor.
One woman who just married in the last few weeks told Saba she’d be willing to part with her two wedding dresses for the cause.
“I was actually surprised how many people wanted to give it up,” said Saba. “A lot of people are sentimental about it.”
Once she has 10 dresses, she’ll package them up to be sent off to Texas. Saba has agreed to pay the shipping for the dresses. The gesture, she said, is a way for her to remember her son and for him to leave a mark on the world.
“I kind of wanted him to have his own little legacy,” Saba said of her son. “No one acknowledges the fact that they were a human. I think everyone should have a stamp on the world and that could be his.”
Saba is asking local women across the Kitsap Peninsula to consider donating their dress to the cause.
“There’s a lot of people that are giving me theirs,” she said. “It’s amazing to know that there are people out there who want to help and who will help my son make a name for himself.”
Karissa Pena of Bangor chose to donate her wedding dress from her first marriage. As a mother who lost her child in 2007, she said that the organization is one that she feels is special and deserving of her wedding dress.
“I’ll do it in honor of Malik,” said Pena. “I wanted to do it to help her. I think it’s a worthy cause.”
While there have not been any requests from hospitals in Kitsap County, the foundation’s president said she welcomes any requests from parents or hospitals anytime. Grubbs said she’s been seeing shipments of donated wedding dresses from across the world and that many groups gather together to collect dresses for donation like Saba has been doing.
“If a donor or seamstress requests that gowns be sent to a particular hospital, we will follow up with that hospital to see if they can and will utilize the garments for the families that they serve,” said Grubbs. “We would be honored to provide garments to any hospital in that area.”
For those who are interested in donating a wedding dress, contact Cara Saba at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information. Gowns must be cleaned in order to be used. For more information on NICU Helping Hands, visit www.nicuhelpinghands.org.