This past month has been quite a roller coaster with all of the ups, downs, twists and turns. We have about 50 bears all tagged and ready to go. We were working out the details to make our first delivery of bears to the hospital when we were told that someone we knew had just found out at their 34 week appointment that their baby no longer had a heartbeat. This was so devastating. We knew in our hearts with the prevalence of stillbirth and infant loss that one day we would directly know someone going through this horrible loss…we just never knew it would be just 8 and a half short months after we lost Collin.
Although we never want any parent to have to lose a child, we know that it’ll continue to happen and at such alarming rates (one in every 115-200 births) that this alone continues to drive us forward through this whole process so that CTA can be there to support these families. We were fortunate enough to be able to talk with the parents and families and best prepare them for what they were about to face. We were able to tell them things that most others wouldn’t understand or think about because we had already been through it all. Once the baby was born we visited with the family at the hospital and took one of our bears. What a bittersweet moment to know that we were having to delivery a bear to someone we knew, yet know at the same time that by doing so we were helping them through this difficult time. Looking back on it it was such a special moment. It’s not the kind of moment you want to have happen, but the kind that you will cherish forever.
Most often we will never have any contact with these parents and families. Most to all of our contact will be with the hospitals and Labor & Delivery staff. We will always remember this moment, and hope that we were able to help them in so many ways more than just simply filling their empty arms. This has now sparked a new thought and direction for CTA that goes beyond the Teddy bears. We hope that our organization continues to grow and give us the opportunities to do so much more.
Ironically, a week after we delivered our first bear, Mindy, a dear friend who is also on our Board of Directors, had a high school friend who lost her baby as well. She was able to deliver a bear to her and Mindy has expressed how wonderful it was to witness firsthand the meaning behind CTA and how helpful it can be to families as the begin to heal. So, we have made two personal deliveries this past month…something we could never have expected. Our drive to get CTA really up and running soon has been accelerated. If only there were more hours in the day!
We knew that a lot went into developing a non-profit organization, or so we thought. Little did we truly know everything that went into it until after we decided that this was our calling. Even though we have Collin’s memorial fund to help us get started, there wasn’t enough to be able to pay a non-profit attorney or someone else to do all the paperwork for us. Since mid December of 2010, CTA has been our second job, but I use the word job cautiously. This isn’t our job but rather our passion. I work a day job to pay the bills, but I feel most alive when I’m working on CTA.
This may be hard for some people to understand, but since I no longer have Collin here on earth, I don’t have a child to nurture. I have all of these motherly instincts, feelings, and emotions, yet no child to raise. CTA is my way of being able to take care of my son by helping other parents of angels when they need it most. I believe deep within my heart that Collin is so proud of his mommy and daddy for helping these families. It is very healing for us to know that we are making a difference. Our time dedicated to CTA, even if to be able to help just one family, is worth every moment!
There are so many documents to fill out and file at both the state a federal levels. First you have to become incorporated and recognized as such by your state. Then you have to write articles and bylaws and file those. Next is your Employer Tax ID even if you will not be hiring any paid employees after which you can file for tax exemption status, or 501(c)(3). That is the monster document of them all! The application alone is 30 pages, but anytime you answer yes in the application you must give an explanation on another sheet of paper. Our entire application was over 50 pages long! Finally, upon approval you then have to file more documents with the state before you are able to solicit any funds. Whew…I told you it was lengthy!
For me this feels like it’s been a slow process. To think we started over 6 months ago is almost crazy. I know we’ve accomplished so much, but not knowing what we were getting ourselves into I thought we’d be much further along at this point. However, I just have to keep reminding myself that we are making progress, even if only one day at a time.