Posted on February 22, 2017 at 3:45pm
for little angels
Nothing can tear a family apart like the lost of a child before birth. One local woman, who spearheadedAngel Gowns of Cornwall and Area, knows full well the pain it brings.
Francis Racine, The Journal
“I’ve had nine miscarriages,” explained Penny Brown, as she sat at a table surrounded by supporters of her case. She holds to her face an extremely small but well-crafted dress. “Doing these angel dresses has been my way of coping. It helps me heal and it’s a worthwhile cause.”
Together, with hardworking volunteers such as Denise Leduc, the organization, which was established two years ago, has donated well over 100 pieces to local parents. “We use wedding dresses, prom dresses, flower girl dresses and even baptismal dresses,” said Leduc. “We make prince and princess gowns for the tiny angels that are taken much too soon. We want their parents to receive them in a respectable way. We don’t want them seeing them in a box.
“We make them to honor the lives that could’ve been,” added Brown.
The group of 15 volunteers takes donated dresses and, after washing and pressing them, dismantles them into little pieces, which in turn are sewn, sometimes, into colorful suits. “We tend to keep the black for little tuxedos, for the boys,” declared Leduc. “We get wedding dresses that are often loved. Then in turn, we create those little gowns. In a way, the little infant is hugged by love.”
At her kitchen table, Leduc opens a big box, revealing several pieces of dress, cut into perfect sizes. “We have a volunteer in her seventies that helps us take apart the dresses,” informed the woman. “She simply loves it. It gives her something to do and she feels that it’s very rewarding. She’s also very good at it.”
Leduc then holds a bag full of buttons. “She’s very efficient,” added Brown, as the four women around the table laugh. “She’s amazing and we love having her on the team!”
On average, a donated dress will create about five outfits. “We have to have several sizes,” specified Leduc.
“They are measured in pounds,” continued Brown.
In addition, the group will often embellish pieces. One of the volunteer holds up a gorgeous blue outfit. On it is a sort of glitter, making it sparkle in the whole room. “We used parts of two wedding dresses for this one,” she said.
Brown also recalls that one time, the group received a fire engine red prom dress. “It was from Bejiing,” she indicated. “It also had leopard prints on it.”
The volunteers worked diligently and managed to make a number of outfits with the red, all the while keeping the leopard print for little bowties, to go along with little tuxedos. “We work with anything we get,” pointed out Leduc.
Bring comfort to the local population
In order to bring warmth to parents who just lost an unborn child, the organization brings several pieces to local hospitals, such as in Cornwall, Brockville and Winchester. “I just got off the phone with the Winchester hospital,” Brown confided. “I have to bring them some more.”
One of the volunteers at the table, herself a doctor, explained: “It’s as if children dying during pregnancy is a stigma, as if it’s taboo. People don’t like to talk about it too much.”
In order to fight the stigma, Brown successfully convinced the City of Cornwall to proclaim October 15 as the Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Day.
In addition, the organization held a remembrance service at the Cornwall Cenotaph. In honor of the event, the lights in the fountain were blue and pink.
“A lot of people participated in the event,” declared Brown.
She hopes to organize the event once more this year. “I want it to go on every year!”
The group is always looking for volunteers to help them in their quest. “We’re always looking for anyone willing to help,” said Leduc. “It doesn’t even matter if you know how to sew or not, we’ll teach you!”
Interested individuals can email Brown at email@example.com