More and more frequently we are seeing maps created for ‘causes’ that are tracking donations, prayer requests, supporters, etc…. As a human being and as a Co-Founder of uencoutner.me, I cannot help but be humbled by these maps. I believe it to be such a great use of the UE platform and a powerful visual of love and hope. It began with Wendy’s Map and then there was a worldwide response to the Liam’s Balloon Map. Recently, a stay-at-home mom with a huge heart and a passion for helping children began mapping her work to provide sick children with special handmade hospital gowns. It is yet another inspiring story that I wanted to take the time to share.
Jessica Kidd is married with three children. She describes a lifelong desire to help sick children and became an EMT at the age of 16. Eventually she worked full time with a medical transport team and felt she had found her calling. When her son with diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, she left her job to become a stay-at-home mother and dedicate her time to understanding Autism and working to support her son (and the rest of the family) in the best way possible. Noticing a void in her life from the lack of directly helping others, Jessica started a service project called “Gracie’s Gowns”. Today, she provides support and encouragement to children across the country via her sewing talent.
“Gracie’s Gowns was founded from my passion for helping children who are sick, constantly in the hospital, facing multiple surgeries, battling cancer and so many other conditions and just need a little sunshine to get through one more day. Being home with my own children allowed me to see the blessings of having a special needs child, but also having healthy children. I was still left with a void of not being able to help other families and children who were not sharing that same blessing…and that is how Gracie’s Gowns became an organization rather than just a yearlong community service project”.
“Making the hospital gowns for these children is just a blessing…I cry with these families when they are hurting, I dance around in my kitchen when they are excited. Each child has impacted my life in a way that I never thought would happen”.
Through her experiences with a special needs child as well as her years of contact with families of children with life threatening illnesses, Jessica has been transformed by the strength and support demonstrated by each child and family. She describes it in this way:
“They fight so hard, but not for themselves, for every child out there that has the same condition they do…and for every child fighting for their life. What modern day “hero” can say they do that? These kids beat all odds and still keep fighting for the ones not doing as well. The way these families are intertwined is better than any organized social group out there, if one mother is about to fall and call it quits, there are THOUSANDS ready to pick her up and help her make it through until she can stand tall once again. These families and children are why I do what I do…and why they deserve what sunshine I can bring to their cloudy days”.
Jessica accepts donations of fabric and gift cards so that she can continue to fulfill all the requests that come in as well as other necessities. The list and mailing address are on her website. Also on the website is her uencounter.me map that denotes each location of where a gown was provided for a hospitalized child. Currently, she is undertaking a larger project and preparing to donate 68 gowns to the University of Virginia’s Health Systems Pediatric Hematology / Oncology Unit. Wow… such dedication.
To offer your own support of Jessica, you can “like” her Facebook page, follow her map on uencounter.me (“like” it too! ) and / or help with her list of needed supplies! Even better – get out and find a way that you can help someone in need!