(WXYZ) — A local couple has turned a tragedy into a mission. After Angie Winton and her husband experienced early pregnancy loss and then the loss of their daughter Brooke at full term, their hunt for support resources came up slim.
"There was just nowhere to really turn for support," said Angie. "It was just so frustrating, because I wanted someone to talk to that had experienced what I experienced. My family and friends were fantastic. I couldn't ask for a better support network, but they hadn't experienced what I was going through."
That's when the Taylor couple started celebrating Brooke’s birthday each year by fundraising. And that snowballed into Angie founding Metro Detroit Share, a local chapter of the National Share organization, which offers pregnancy and infant loss support.
"In 2008, we started working on developing Metro Detroit Share and started hosting meetings in February of 2009. And those meetings continue today," she said.
But it’s not just support meetings, Metro Detroit Share helps families cover funeral expenses, and sends out keepsake boxes with grief information aimed at helping the whole family, supporting at all angles.
"We use handmade baby blankets that are made by members of the community, a teddy bear, and then we include comfort items. So things like chapstick, Kleenex, because unfortunately, when you're in the hospital, they don't always have Kleenex or comfortable Kleenex. So we put those in the boxes," she said.
To date, Angie said Metro Detroit Share has distributed more than 3,500 boxes throughout Michigan. They also recently started doing care boxes for early pregnancy loss.
"Early loss is way under supported. Families that experience that often are just told to move on and get pregnant again. And people don't realize that, A. the family is grieving the loss of their baby, and they deserve to grieve. And secondly, it's not always easy for families ... people experience fertility issues. People have recurrent losses," she said.
One of their latest initiatives: getting Caring Cradles in Michigan hospitals. It’s a cooling bassinet that allows families to spend more time with their baby after their baby has passed.
"I think I had about two to three hours of time, which just wasn't enough. You know, if people want to hold their baby, dress their baby, bathe, photos, spend time with family, it just isn't enough time. With the cooling cradles, I have heard where people have spent up to two days with their baby after birth," said Angie.
Metro Detroit Share has donated 19 so far at close to $6,000 each – and the response from families, Angie said, has been that of gratitude.
"In fact, many of our cradles that have been donated are because of the generosity of families that use the cradles," said Angie. "Our goal is to have one at every hospital that will take one."
With Metro Detroit Share, Angie and her team of volunteers, donors and partners are able to help local families through unimaginable heartache. And all of the good and support and healing the nonprofit provides, was made possible by a baby girl named Brooke.
"I don't want my daughter forgotten. So this is a way to continuously honor her. And I think the time that I would have spent parenting her here on Earth, this is my way to parent her," said Angie.
Metro Detroit Share is hosting its annual Walk for Remembrance and Hope on Sunday, October 3.
To sign up, donate or reach out to them for resources, click here.