Holding on to Hope is a group that helps families who have had stillborn children or children who have died shortly after birth. It was founded by Beth Loder and Dana Roberts after their friend Vanessa La Plante had a stillbirth. Loder, who has also had a stillbirth, wanted to help.
One of the first projects the group wanted to take on was purchasing a cuddle cot - a device with a cooling system that gives grieving parents time to form a bond with their child and helps with their loss - to aid local families.
As they presented the cuddle cot to the local hospital, the women said it's not just designed to be used by the parents. Entire families - including grandparents, siblings, friends, and other family members - can benefit by using the device to help as they cope with the loss of the baby.
Holding on to Hope expected to have a number of fundraising activities to raise the money to purchase the cot, which has a $3,488 price tag.
Much to their surprise, there was tremendous community support for the project and they were approached by the local Rotary Club and CRRS TV, which offered to pay half the cost of the unit. A yard sale that was organized by the community raised another $740.
During the presentation, Jesse Gauthier and Tiana Brown presented a check for $2,829.82 to the group in honour of their son, Mason Michael Gauthier, who passed away about a year ago. The funds are proceeds of a Facebook campaign held one year after he was born.
The group says even though they raised more than enough to purchase the cuddle cot, their job is not done. They will now look at purchasing memory boxes, which parents can take home from the hospital. Each box is filled with items like the baby's clothing and helps honour the child's memory.
They will also use funds to print information pamphlets and offer support as well for families.
Dawn Taylor, who attended the event, said she lost her child more than 20 years ago, and it was very traumatic. Her son lived only nine hours and she was in Quebec, where she faced a language barrier. She says a cuddle cot would have helped the situation greatly, and a memory box would have been appreciated, as her son's items were returned in a garbage bag.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story misidentified Beth Loder as Dana Roberts. This is a corrected version.