By Rebecca Jung
A 12 year old girl once found her 6 month old baby sister Hannah dead in her crib. The girl was Rachel Craig, an alumna from 2001.
The loss of her sister, along with other losses of infants Craig had heard about from friends planted a seed for a ministry in Craig’s heart.
In 2011, this seed grew to fruition in the form of Cradled.
“I had a dream there was this house,” she said. “A Cradled home that offers support for these families. A safe place for them.”
Cradled is a nonprofit organization that serves women who have experienced loss by miscarriage, infertility or still birth.
The organization is run by four women: Craig, Dr. Joyce Nuner, Rachelle Huitink and Amber Burns.
The organization offers support groups, education, singing a blessing for the baby and family, swaddling the baby at home or in the hospital, footprints and handprints of the baby, professional photography of the baby, support at the hospital, local funeral services, resources and infertility support. All services are complimentary.
“People don’t have anything but the items left,” Craig said. These items include pictures, footprints, handprints and other memorable things.
This is why Cradled chose these specific services.
Women who attend the support groups also get to select a cap and blanket to take home with them. These caps and blankets are knit by a group of women in Indiana.
Craig said she, along with Regina Easily-Young, led the first support group.
Nuner, a professor in the family and consumer sciences department, is one of the four women who run Cradled.
Nuner experienced a personal loss, which is how she originally connected with the organization.
“We are a nonprofit,” Nuner said. “We are in the final stages of applying for 501(c)(3)status.”
A 501(c)(3) is a designation non-profit organizations get from the state government that provides them with a certain tax status and benefits.
According to the Texas Secretary of State’s website, a ‘nonprofit corporation’ is a corporation in which no part of the income of which is distributable to members, directors, or officers.
This means that they rely on donations for everything that they do and also rely on the support of volunteers.
Because Cradled is a nonprofit it operates under a board, of which Craig is the president, Nuner said.
Other board members include some former members of the Cradled support groups.
“We have an attorney who came through the group and now works with us,” Nuner said. “It’s neat. Cradled has met the needs of families served and they turn around and give back.”
Nuner said the topic of miscarriage and infant loss often makes people very uncomfortable.
“If grief is not addressed, they will find other ways to fill that void the baby left and sometimes it isn’t with healthy things,” Nuner said.
Craig said the support groups are six weeks long, and generally meet on Wednesday nights. They have at least one session in the spring and in the fall.
Craig said the support group is open to fathers too.
“Every session we have has had at least one dad, if not more,” Nuner said.
The idea behind the support groups is to provide a listening ear, a safe place and a community of support for women and families dealing with the loss of a baby, not to provide counseling services.
“It is not therapy, but it is therapeutic,” Nuner said.
The sessions typically have a different topic and activity each week, and in the first night, they all share their stories.
Cradled also offers opportunities for families in the style of community events.
“We offer a memorial service in December,” Nuner said.
They also offer an event annually on Oct. 15, which is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
This event is held at Painting with a Twist.
“It’s not a sad day,” Nuner said. “It’s a family time. Couples come, some bring older children. We smile, we laugh, we have cookies.”
Nuner brings her oldest daughter and they paint a picture for their loss.
Those interested in volunteering with Cradled or learning more about the organization should visit Cradled’s Facebook page or website: www.cradled.org