FRIDAY FOCUS: Gracie’s Gowns

Gracie’s Gowns, was created with a truly unique and personal story. This moving organization hand-makes hospital gowns for children up to 18 years 1384023850old with chronic and life-threatening illness and then delivers them to that child. They reach out to children in need not only locally but overseas as well. Many children spend extensive time in a hospital while undergoing treatment, procedures and more and to receive a special and fun hospital gown to wear during their time there can make the world of a difference to them. The gowns are made customizable to fit each child, as well as, personalized with that child’s name, they even make the snaps MRI proof. We were fortunate to catch up with Jessica Kidd, founder and maker of Gracie’s Gowns, as this week’s Friday Focus to learn more about her passion-filled organization and some of the exciting events taking place this year. Help give these children something to smile about when you help support Gracie’s Gowns.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: Gracie’s Gowns is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that makes and distributes homemade, personalized and fun hospital gowns to children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. We serve any child under the age of 18 years old that is diagnosed with such a condition regardless of where they live. The majority of the families we have served live outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia, however, we are expanding almost weekly in our own back yard essentially. We’ve sent gowns internationally as well all the way to Australia and a little of everywhere in between.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: Personally, my favorite moments are when I am able to deliver a gown in person to a child and family in the hospital. I’ve driven as far as 2.5 hours in one direction just to deliver a gown because the family was at the National Institute of Health for several weeks’ worth of testing and they actually lived in Hawaii. Being able to deliver a gown to a family’s home or in the hospital is the best. I get to meet these precious children, learn more about their diagnosis and about them and their family…it becomes more than just a mission. It makes everything so much more personal and real and beyond worth the sleepless nights and needle stabs from the sewing machines.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is just letting folks know we exist, being able to put on a local larger-scale donation drive or even a live event is extremely difficult because many people have no idea who we are, much less what we do. As a result of that consistent donations and financial support is also a struggle. We have such a large outreach of families and can raise funds when absolutely needed, but we’d love to be to the point where we don’t feel like we have to beg in order to keep gowns happening. We’d love to get an actual office to help increase our volunteer basis, but again that goes back to the consistent funding issues.

 Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Right now, we have a Giving Back Party at the new Kendra Scott store opening in Short Pump Towne Centre on July 19th, 2016 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., where people can come to the store enjoy some refreshments, meet me and see some gowns up close and personal. All orders placed that night or through our pre-order forms that include anything on Kendra Scott’s website will allow for 20% to be donated back to Gracie’s Gowns. We also have a few upcoming online events, we will be hosting a virtual 5K in the fall (a live 5K event too if we can get the venue and support), our second annual quilt raffle, a month long raffle of prizes in November and then our sponsorship puzzle too! All of which happens on our website under events.

 Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We’re looking for local volunteers to assist with sewing, or even hosting a sewing day for the community. Spreading the word about our organization to others will help bring in more supporters, so we can open an office and allow more people to come in and sew at the times that work best for them without having to coordinate various pick-ups and drop-offs. We also collect items all year long for a variety of things such as our Christmas boxes for our families, which are mailed out in December. We also do items to be included with gown requests, surprise boxes to families and things of that nature.

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