Angel Gowns for Dignity turns wedding dresses into clothes for deceased children.

COURTESY - Angel Gowns for Dignity volunteer Dawnette Pyne made Forest Grove resident Stacy Reznick's dress into 11 little gowns for children who wont come home from the hospital. Stacy Reznick remembers well the emotional toll of two miscarriages.

So when she heard about an opportunity to help women who have lost babies, the Forest Grove woman went into her closet, pulled out a memento from one of her most joyous days and gave it away to be destroyed.

Reznick handed her wedding dress over to Dawnette Pyne, a Sandy resident who donates her time to Angel Gowns for Dignity, a community of volunteers who deconstruct wedding dresses and use the materials to make gowns for babies who don't make it home from the hospital. The organization coordinates volunteers and helps them recoup some of the material costs they incur, since it does not charge families for the gowns.

Families with stillborn children, or premature babies or other infants who die after birth, can choose a gown made from recycled wedding dresses for funeral services and burial.

Pyne said some families also hire photographers to capture their young deceased loved ones, and they want a nice outfit to dress them in. Often during that time, it's too difficult for families to go buy baby clothes. They're also dealing with hospital and funeral expenses.

COURTESY  - Forest Grove resident Stacy Reznick only wore her wedding dress once, she said, so she wanted it to go to good use. "Do I want this sitting in a box in my closet the rest of my life?" Reznick asked about her dress. "The cause it was going toward was so much more important."

It was bittersweet parting with her wedding dress, Reznick said, not so much because she was sad to see it go, but because she knew it would turn into gowns somebody would someday have to use.

"My (pregnancies) never got full-term," Reznick said. "I couldn't imagine getting to that point."

When donating her dress, Reznick thought about those memories and emotions of her wedding day and wanted to give something of hers for children who would never get to have those experiences.

"This just kind of spoke to me," Reznick said. "It was a really good opportunity for me to help out, but this whole cause is way bigger than me."

Pyne, who has been sewing for decades, met a woman years ago who wrote a blog about her stillborn child.

"It was so hard for her, because people were expecting a baby and then there was nothing," Pyne remembers. "It made me much more in tune to that hardship."

Later, one of her friend's children succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and Pyne tried her best to provide comfort.

"These gowns go to families who have just suffered significant losses," said Pyne, who identifies as a Christian. "When I'm working on these gowns, I pray for comfort for these families."

By Stephanie Haugen
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times
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