Making A Difference: Delaware Chapter Of The Tears Foundation

April 30, 2019 – Making A Difference – Stacey Smith – Ashlynn Guptill – Michelle Pennington

At Reproductive Associates of Delaware, we understand that infertility can be a very isolating disease to face. It is important to know you are not alone. The purpose of the Make a Difference series is to highlight the dedicated organizations and individuals in the community available to help you on your journey.

Stacy Smith
Delaware Chapter Leader
Serving in Honor of AJ 

Ashlynn Guptill
Committee Member
Serving in Honor of Grace 

Michelle Pennington
Committee Member
Serving in Honor of Charlotte, Adelynn, Juliette, & Ava

Our patient community is filled with extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. Members of a local pregnancy loss support group joined together with the mission of helping others going through similar tragedies while also honoring the life of their child. A non-profit organization was born, the Delaware Chapter of The TEARS Foundation.

We had the opportunity to connect with the organization’s Committee to learn more about their mission, the Delaware Rock & Walk for Babies event, and how they are making a difference.

The 2019 Delaware Rock & Walk will take place on May 4th at Caravel Academy.

What is the mission of The Tears Foundation?

The TEARS Foundation seeks to compassionately lift a financial burden from families who have lost a baby by providing funds to assist with the cost of burial or cremation services. We believe that every baby’s life deserves to be honored and memorialized in accordance with the grieving parents’ wishes and are committed to helping bereaved parents with this experience.

 

When was the Delaware Chapter founded and what inspired the Committee to bring this resource to the First State?

After experiencing the loss of our babies and meeting in a bereavement support group, several Delaware parents decided we wanted to turn our heartache into healing. We all had different experiences in our losses, but what drew us to one another was not only our desire to honor the lives of our babies, but also to show others who might suffer the same loss in the future the same kindness we had been shown by charitable donations received from the community. This mission of “paying it forward” and helping other families with the financial burden that no parent ever expects to encounter planted the seed for what soon would become something greater than us. On a leap of faith and by divine intervention, our group of parents were led to The TEARS Foundation who shares the same mission and vision we had hoped to fulfill. The TEARS Foundation has been a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for 15 years in many states across the country, and has even begun to serve other countries as well, but has never had a chapter in Delaware. This was the opportunity we had dreamed of and seamlessly, just a few months later in November of 2017, the Delaware Chapter of The TEARS Foundation was founded.

 

What are some of the resources that the Foundation provides?

The TEARS Foundation seeks to provide families with funeral financial assistance, emotional support gatherings, memory boxes, peer companions, gifts of encouragement and support, and compassionate advocacy for the community of bereaved families; a community that is all too often silently unnoticed.

 

The TEARS Foundation frequently uses the symbol of the butterfly, is there a meaning behind this?

In the words of our founder, Sarah Slack, “For TEARS, the butterfly is a symbol of hope. It’s a transformation, and the beauty that can come through something so painful as child loss. There’s a time of darkness, and a time when things don’t look good at all. Such as when the transformation is occurring with a caterpillar into a butterfly. Ultimately with healing and a safe place to mourn, we transform into a new beautiful version of ourselves. Never the same, but with new hope and beauty.”

You had an amazing turnout for the first Annual Delaware Rock  & Walk with over 300 attendees. The second annual event is set for May 4th at Caravel Academy. Can you tell us more about this year’s event?

A year later, I don’t think we can even fully believe how amazing the 1st Delaware Rock & Walk was! What a beautiful, supportive community we are so lucky to be a part of in this great state of Delaware and its surrounding states! We are certainly looking forward to an event just as amazing this coming weekend. The 2nd Annual Delaware Rock & Walk for Babies will be on May 4th from 1-4:00pm at Caravel Academy’s football stadium. We are ready for a day of celebration, remembrance, and community as we honor all of our precious babies gone too soon. So far we have close to 300 people registered, and will be honoring over 100 babies. The day will be filled with family-friendly opportunities such as arts and crafts, yard games, face painting, character visits, light refreshments, a bake sale, and a raffle with some wonderful prizes donated by generous community organizations. We will walk the “Hope Lap” together around the stadium track to represent how no one ever has to walk alone in their grief, and then we invite attendees to continue walking, or explore the day’s activities. Around the track, over 100 butterflies will be displayed with the names of the babies being celebrated that day. We have added a few other special activities to honor the babies this year as well, but they will have to remain a secret for now. We look forward to an uplifting day of hope and togetherness, and are so grateful to everyone who plans to join us!

Click here to learn more about the Delaware Rock & Walk.

 

What do you hope to accomplish in 2019 with The Tears Foundation?

In 2019 we hope to continue to build awareness of pregnancy and infant loss, and be a supportive presence to families who experience this unimaginable heartache. Through fundraising, memorial gatherings, and community advocacy, we hope to let families in Delaware know that they will never have to navigate their grief journey alone.

 

What advice do you have for families that are grieving?

Grief is the most unpredictable force you will ever unwillingly come into contact with. It can tear you down, but it can also ignite a desire within you to make a difference in the world, or even give you a new perspective. Trust the process and know that while there is no reaching the “finish line” in this process, you will grow stronger over time. Allow grief to come as it may, in all of it’s many unrecognizable forms. Acknowledge it. Label it if you can. And always, always remember you are not alone. Through all of the many ups and downs that you will encounter, never forget to speak your baby’s(ies’) name(s), honor their precious life by telling their story, and carry the gift of their memory with you always.

Is there anything we didn’t mention that you feel is important for others to know about your organization?
We are a growing organization, so we humbly welcome anyone who would like to be a part of our team! If you are interested in becoming a volunTEAR, please email us at delawarechapter@thetearsfoundation.org or find us on Facebook by searching “Delaware Chapter of The TEARS Foundation” and send us a message. We are so grateful for the outpouring of kindness we have already experienced in such a short time and are honored to be able to serve the community in the great state of Delaware.

For more information, visit The Delaware Chapter of The Tears Foundation website: http://thetearsfoundation.org/delaware/

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