A year ago, as we were planning and preparing for 2022, we knew we need to make some changes as our nest of families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss in the service area had increased tremendously. Up to that point, we had been hosting our groups and events in shared or donated spaces and we knew it would be impossible to host groups in our homes and insensitive to host grief support groups in public spaces like breweries, wineries or restaurants.
We hoped 2022 would be the year we start the next chapter of our advocacy and establish roots with a bonafide office to support the more than 100 families utilizing our services and programs. So, we sent an intention to find a space...a safe, sacred, private space for all of the families of our nest to gather for groups, events or even one-on-one consultations.
And we waited.
Then, by chance in May, the office space we had envisioned as our space became available! We jumped on it immediately and thanks to Dr. Mike at Discover Chiropractic Center in Blackwood, we were able to meet our goal of having a safe sacred space for our families to come and explore, feel, heal and share their grief! We call our office/meeting space, the Healing Nest. We hosted an open house to the community in mid-July with our formal grand opening at the Blackwood Pumpkin Festival!
While we are not the first pregnancy and infant loss support center in the State of New Jersey, we are the first in Camden County and offer services and programs not found elsewhere in the region. Our mission is tri-fold:
First, we support the immediate and long-term needs of families in our service region walking the journey of pregnancy and infant loss, infertility and pregnancy after loss.
Virtual support program launch - Last January, we launched our virtual support program through a closed Facebook Group. Here, we posted topical video content, book reviews, discussion topics and allowed for group members to share and engage when they felt comfortable. Not knowing we would have an office space to meet this year, our online forum gave our parents an opportunity to get to know each other and become familiar with our support options as they explored their grief. Desiree and Nicole also offered a five week journey grief course that has become very popular among our parents!
In-person and event support - With the opening of the Healing Nest, we established a schedule of in-person support groups and small events. This includes Desiree & Nicole's standing group (2nd Monday each month) and our popular Craft & Heal Group (4th Mondays bimonthly). We also have the space now to host grandparents, couples and sometimes siblings at our space where families feel seen, heard and their babies are never forgotten! Many times, our groups create bereavement boxes for our doulas to give out bedside when we are called by hospitals.
Pregnancy After Loss Mentorship Program - Our Pregnancy After Loss Mentorship Program with Kristen and Ashly allows our office to be open weekly for families to come when they needs support when they can. They know every Tuesday, peer support is there for them as it fits their schedule. Since it's launch in August, we have supported four families in welcoming their rainbow babies, as well as several more on the way in early 2023!
Established five new legacy projects - The need to parent your child, whether by your side or in your heart, is inherent. The majority of our families return to us as they approach milestones and anniversaries seeking ways they can honor their child and give back to Three Little Birds (note: our services are free and we do not actively solicit donations from the families we serve). We also give each family $100 (no cash value) toward the launch of a project that brings awareness and funds to support Three Little Birds Mission. This year our families launched Cade's Creations/Crusin for Cade, Aubree's Adventures, Zara's Tootsies, Spencer's Cornhole Tournament and Xander's Nursery!
Community collaboration with new Community Partners - Deathwork is collaborative, not competitive. Therefore, community collaboration is paramount to truly be of support to all of the families in our community. This year, we added several big-hearted non-profit groups, birth workers and grant makers to our nest. They include Women's Way, Across the Spectrum Doula and Hey Mama Lactation & Perinatal Care!
Second, and equally as important, we support the medical professionals and clinicians supporting families through pregnancy and infant loss:
Three Little Birds launched Perinatal Bereavement Training Program at Jefferson Health - In the spring of 2022, Three Little Birds trained six perinatal professionals at Jefferson Health through a scholarship! The course was completed virtually over five weeks with one in-person clinical day that offered tips and tricks on effective communication, ways to encourage bonding and memory making and how to provide the gift of infant remembrance portraiture. Vicki Asturrizaga was named our Healthcare Hero of the Year at our Wave of Light event. Three Little Birds has served more than 40 Jefferson Health families bedside or postpartum since our founding in 2016. Our training program was even featured on KYW NewsRadio!
Additionally, we launched Perinatal Bereavement Training Program at Inspira Health - In the summer of 2022, Three Little Birds launched the same training program at Inspira Health with clinicians from their Mullica Hill and Vineland facilities. Dawn Moore was named Healthcare Hero of the Year at our Wave of Light event. To date, Three Little Birds has supported more than 60 perinatal loss families between from Inspira Health.
We trained 11 perinatal bereavement advocates - Over the summer, Three Little Birds gave scholarships to 11 individuals for bereavement training to serve as a peer-advocate to go bedside to support families and clinicians at the time of perinatal loss. Many of these individuals are loss parents, active maternal health professionals, retired nurses or birth workers. Since receiving their certification, many of them have gone bedside, others are managing support groups or legacy projects or responding to support inquiries, all of which the demand for has increased. This scholarship allowed us to triple our volunteer pool and will be helpful to us as we expand to new healthcare systems.
Lastly, we stand in solidarity with the thousands of other advocacy groups like ours who are seeking to #shatterthestigma of pregnancy and infant loss, which affects one in every four families:
Signature events - We know our grief is non-linear and life long. We host several events throughout the year for parents to explore their grief, connect with others walking similar journeys as well as raise awareness in our communities on how to support this unique grief. This includes our Bereaved Mother's Day Spa Retreat & Butterfly Release, our Father's Day Rage Room Philly event, our annual Wave of Light celebration and our holiday party, the Gathering of the Grinches!
Legacy events - Several families in our nest hosted legacy events in memory of their baby that have supported fundraising and awareness outreach goals of the organization. This includes Baby C's Car Show, Spencer's Cornhole Tournament,
Supported several Community Partner events- This includes serving as a community sponsor and/or attending events for the TEARS Foundation South Jersey Chapter, Noelle's Light, the Walk for Hope and Aubrey's Advocate.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Above everything, we want to thank everyone who has supported us over the past six years either through financial support, sharing your story or our social media posts, creating a legacy project, sharing our social media posts and/or sponsoring our events! This includes Image is Everything Studios, Float Haven Spa and Wondertime, LLC in Pitman, NJ, Federation of Neighborhood Centers Philadelphia and everyone who gave from their hearts in memory of a baby or loved one. Thank you!
We are 100% volunteer run and donation/grant based so your support is needed as we begin the next chapter of Three Little Birds' history and expand our service and programs in 2023. Donations can be made through this link. Thank you for your support!
2023 MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM