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Wednesday
Feb082012

What We Do : Our Mission and How We Came To Be

EVAN'S EMBRACE donates comfort baskets to Seattle area hospitals, which are then given to parents of babies born still or die shortly after birth.

Our baskets contain a handmade blanket, journal, picture frame, small stuffed animal, box of tissues, and various other items.  Also included is a list of babyloss resources to help these precious families at such a difficult time.

We gratefully accept donations of the baskets themselves and items to fill them.  Financial gifts are welcomed to cover items not donated, and to help with our administrative costs. 

An example of our first baby girl basket and contents.

HOW WE CAME TO BE -
Melissa Holz   Founder, Evan’s Embrace

Most of my friends and family can tell you when I decided on my career.  I was 8 years old and in the 4th grade.  We were watching a career video and a paralegal came on the screen.  As soon as the job was explained I knew that was what I wanted to be.  And a paralegal is what I became.  20 years later, I’ve been in the legal field for about 8 years and I love it.  It truly was my calling for a career.  But I have a bigger life calling in life that I would give it all up for: wife and mom.

My high school guidance counselor told me once that I was the kind of person that “did whatever needed to be done to reach my goals.”  I’m definitely like that.  I get frustrated when things don’t go my way or when things are out of my control.  At 23 years old I saw all my friends getting married, having kids and I felt that this was one situation I really couldn’t do anything about.  I can’t force someone to fall in love with me.  I can’t force them to marry me.  I did eventually meet someone, and we began planning a future together.  There was talk about where we would live, how many kids we would have and their names.  I finally felt that the missing part of my life was become complete.

After a trip to visit his family, he came home and told me it was over.  Out of the blue and after three years of being together.  My dreams for our future were gone.  The kids, the house, cookies after school and family trips on weekends, it was all gone.  I felt out of control and angry.  How could this happen?  I’m a good person, I’m nice, I did everything right! 

Kara (Evan’s Mom) and I have known each other for a long time.  We weren’t in the same circle of friends, but had classes together all through middle and high school.  After graduation I found her on MySpace and Facebook and began following how she was doing.  I saw she fell in love with her handsome Australian husband Glenn, was married in June of 2007 and then moved to Australia.  I was so excited for her when I saw she and Glenn were pregnant with their first child.  A few months later I was so sad to see that she had miscarried her (Julia) about 17 weeks into their pregnancy. 

When Kara and Glenn (and very proud Gramma Vicki) announced Kara was pregnant again in January of 2010 I couldn’t have been happier for them.  I excitedly watched Kara’s belly grow on Facebook, read her blog, and watched she and Glenn decorate their nursery, nest and buy stuff for “Critter” the name they called Evan before he was born.  I was so excited for her, but inside, I was also a bit jealous.  I could not wait to be married and expecting too.  Kara was so lucky to have such an adoring husband and a beautiful baby boy on the way.

 In June, when Critter was due I followed her Facebook and blog religiously to see when he would be born.  One morning I woke up and saw all these messages from people saying that they were praying for Evan.  What on earth could that mean?  I soon found out that Critter (Evan) had had a traumatic birth and was not doing well.  They had rushed him to a new hospital with a NICU ward and things didn’t look good.  I couldn’t believe it.  How could this happen to a baby born on his due date?  We all know that babies who are born early have complications but Evan was normal and perfect.  I just didn’t understand.

I “friended” Kara’s Mom, Vicki on Facebook so I could keep updated and followed them continuously for the next few days.  One thing that astonished me was the faith of their entire family during the situation.  It was such an example to me.  I felt silly and ridiculous for being angry and upset with what I felt was the end of my dream when Kara, Glenn, and their families had to say goodbye to their perfect, sweet, infant.  They should be angry, but they weren’t.  Of course their hearts were saddened to the core but they still had their faith. 

After Evan passed away I kept in touch with Kara and Vicki.  When Evan’s one year birthday came up I knew I wanted to do something to honor him and his family since they had taught me so much about life, letting go, and having faith.  I created three baskets to donate the NICU at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue on Evan’s birthday.  I included things that would help families of babies that are miscarried, still born or pass away in the NICU get through such a difficult time.  Vicki included a letter with a list of resources so families would know they’re not alone.  I think when you go through any sort of difficult time in life whether a divorce, financial difficulty, medical issues, or loss of a loved one it’s nice to know you’re not alone. 

Overlake loved the baskets and sadly they went very quickly.  Thus the idea for Evan’s Embrace was born.  It’s a living tribute to Evan, his family and a way to bless other families whose babies become angels far too soon.  We’re hoping to donate baskets to more and more hospitals to hand out to families who need them. Vicki has also created Julia’s Joy so babies big and small, who pass away, will have an outfit to wear. 

My biggest wish in life is to be a mom.  That’s it.  I could live in a tent in the middle of nowhere and if I had a baby in my arms I would be happy.  I cannot even imagine living through what Kara, her family, and what the recipients of our baskets have to go through.  I hope I never have to.  But they are some of the strongest people I know.  I hope the Evan’s Embrace baskets bring some measure of comfort and let them know they’re not alone and we’re thinking of them.