FORT WORTH - It's not a bride who will be wearing any of the wedding gowns gathered by Lisa Grubbs, but a baby.
Each donated dress is being transformed into angel gowns for babies who never make it home from the hospital.
"There's something hopeful about that start of life, about a wedding, and to me, it's that full circle," said Grubbs, founder of NICU Helping Hands. "This child who is so loved by its parents, being wrapped in love by a bride."
Lisa Grubbs is the wife of a specialist for premature babies. She and her husband believe the passing of a child is a sacred event that should be honored. It's one reason she started NICU Helping Hands, a Fort Worth organization created to support parents both educationally and emotionally.
One of their missions is to insure parents who lose babies in the hospital have something special and sacred to bury them in.
Grubbs has gathered a small team of volunteer seamstresses to transorm bridal gowns into unique and beautiful works of art. A single wedding dress can make a dozen or more of the tiny angel gowns. Many look like satin or silk christening gowns for baby dolls.
"Often, we would just wrap little babies just in tiny little hospital blankets or washrags or towels, and we didn't really have much to offer those families," said Amy Vickers, a former NICU nurse who saw a need and volunteered to sew. "It doesn't take the hurt away from them. But it just lets them know that we feel like their baby's life means something."
Most of the volunteers who sew work alone, in their own homes, for their own reasons.
LaJean Sturman sews for a son she lost shortly after birth, 30 years ago.
"It would have just meant the world, because I would have felt like I was sending him in something special, instead of something ill-fitting," LaJean said.
Lisa Grubbs said women who donate their gowns often do so for personal reasons. One such donation came from a woman who had recently lost her own infant.
The angel gowns are donated to hospital NICU units. The need is far greater than it should be.
Volunteers say each angel gown is stitched with heart, and hope that the symbolic love of the wedding dresses are carried from the beginning of a new life, to another's end.
If you would like to donate a gown, you can ship it to: NICU Helping Hands at 301 Commerce Street, Suite 3200; Fort Worth, TX 76102.