GATLINBURG (WATE) - Our newest WATE 6 On Your Side Hero is a woman who shows great compassion every day for families whose babies didn't make it home from the hospital. Jennifer Jones of Gatlinburg founded the non-profit Angel Wings Memory Gowns after the healthy birth of her third child.
Angel Wings transforms beautiful donated bridal dresses into tiny burial outfits.
"When I had her, I was talking to my nurse about demises at their hospital, and she told me that when a baby was born too small for clothing at the store, that they would put the baby in a washrag and give it back to the mother that way, and that was devastating for me to hear. And so that was really the pushing point for me to begin Angel Wings," said Jones.
Rebecca Rose and her husband Will received a burial outfit for their son Jeremiah, who only lived 51 minutes after being born.
"It meant so much to us because it took that stress off of us and that heartache of having to go buy that burial outfit. Here this was something handmade, just for him, and you could just feel the love through it."
The Roses are just one of 900 families Angel Wings helped last year alone.
Through the help of volunteers who use tiny patterns to make the gowns from the elegant fabric of wedding dresses, the gowns are sent, free of charge, in keepsake boxes to more than 25 hospitals in our area and as far away as the Virgin Islands. All the hospital has to do is make a request. The gowns are lovingly placed in handmade pouches, along with a tiny stuffed animal, a special receiving blanket, a crocheted cap and a tiny diaper. Another special touch is a bracelet for mom, made from jewels on the wedding dress from which the gown was crafted.
Right now, Angel Wings is blessed to use retail space at no cost, but it is up for lease, and Jennifer is worried about where Angel Wings will go next.
"If it was to rent, we wouldn't have any place to go and as you can see, this can't go back into my dining room," said Jones.
There are 500 wedding dresses just donated, waiting to be transformed into something grieving families will cherish, thanks to community support for this true hero, Jennifer Jones.
To make a donation: mail a check to:
Angel Wings Memory Gowns
1235 East Parkway Suite 8
Gatlinburg, TN 37738