Lenexa women help ministry help families

by Kara Hansen

LENEXA — Many families who have experienced the death of a baby struggle in silence.

But the folks at Alexandra’s House in Kansas City, Mo., want to change all that.

And they are getting a little extra help from two parishioners at Holy Trinity Parish
in Lenexa.

It all started when Patti Lewis, founder and director of Alexandra’s House, came to speak to the Daughters of Isabella at Holy Trinity.

In her presentation, Lewis discussed her work in the perinatal hospice program with families who suffer from miscarriage, stillbirth, or a terminal diagnosis affecting their baby soon after birth.

As participants rehashed Lewis’ remarks later, it became clear to Joan Brisimitzakis, a member of Holy Trinity, that these kinds of tragedies are anything but rare.

“It really seemed to touch home with a lot of women,” Brisimitzakis said. “A lot of us had similar experiences of losing a child, and many don’t realize the level of outreach needed for women who have suffered this kind of loss.”

Brisimitzakis, who had lost a still-born child, felt moved to help the ministry of Alexandra’s House.

“I felt like I could relate to some of what parents there were going through, and I wanted to see if we could do a fundraiser to help support the families physically or emotionally,” she said.

It didn’t take long for Brisimitzakis and fellow Holy Trinity parishioner Martha Hubbard to outline plans for a fundraiser, then put those plans in motion.

The fundraiser is a first for Alexandra’s House, which has historically relied on private donations and support.

“This is a calling we do for love alone and we don’t accept money from the families we serve,” said Lewis.

But when Hubbard and Brisimitzakis approached Lewis with the idea, she took it to prayer and discussed it with staff, the board of directors and regular supporters of the ministry. Everyone agreed the fundraiser was a good idea.

Lewis said that while a fundraiser is obviously about raising money to support the needs of Alexandra’s House, it serves a much higher purpose than obtaining funds.

“Our first goal is always awareness,” she said, “so that if someone out there needs us, they can find out our services exist.”

The fruits of the Holy Trinity duo’s labor, a “Bow Ties for Babies Gala,” will be held Sept. 12 at the downtown Kansas City Marriott Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. The evening will include cocktails and a video slide show about the work of Alexandra’s House.

“We’re hoping to get the message out about Alexandra’s House and aid them in making their mission a little easier to accomplish,” said Hubbard.

“We just hope people in the community are made more aware of the great work done by Alexandra’s House and feel moved to attend or make a donation,” added Brisimitzakis.

The cost is $150 a person and tables of 10 are available for $1,500. Sponsors for the full or partial amount of a table are welcome, said Brisimitzakis.

Funds raised will go toward helping families with funeral expenses, providing staff to attend doctor appointments with families, running a support group and hosting an annual retreat for families who have experienced infant loss. It will also enable the ministry to provide families with a place to stay during that difficult time.

“We always help with funeral expenses for families who cannot afford them and we receive calls from families outside of Kansas City we have never even worked with,” said Lewis. “People know we will help them.”

Hubbard said she wished such a resource had been available when her first son was born with a congenital heart defect and given a poor prognosis. Though her child did survive and is now grown, Hubbard did not have the resources at the time to quell the overwhelming range of emotions and stress parents in such circumstances find themselves experiencing.

“It really helps to associate with those who have been through similar experiences,” said Hubbard. “When you visit Alexandra’s House, there is a certain comforting feeling there. It’s a place to pray, relax and find help at a most trying moment.”

For more information about the ministry and work done at Alexandra’s House, visit the Web site at: www.alexandrashouse.com.

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