I’ll bet you are wondering what goes on up in that huge old studio on Harbor Blvd when the Angel Gowns team gets together. Or maybe you weren’t- but I’m going to tell you anyway, now that I have your attention. We LAUGH a LOT!
There have been people who think we are all sad whenever we get together, but quite the contrary. When the volunteers trickle in for coffee and a bite of breakfast, the tables are already piled high with the projects for the day. Seriously, those gowns take up a LOT of space! We have had them piled in every corner of the studio, in space-saving vacuum bags, hanging from racks and doors and portable walls usually reserved for art displays! Piled on sofas and chairs! Stacked in boxes waiting to be opened. And opening every dress is like Christmas! Gowns from as far back as the early 1940’s all the way to the present have been hand carried, picked up, and mailed to us from all over the world! All are carefully hand washed and pressed and eventually de-constructed. One dress can make at least a dozen Angel Gowns, with leftover pieces saved and added to other gowns.
But… I digress…
Everyone comes in ready to work. And we have something for everyone, even if someone doesn’t sew! There is de-construction, hand sewing, packaging, and creating the special gifts for the grieving parents that are included in each gown package. Frequently we have people come by to drop off a wedding dress.
And there is ALWAYS a story behind the dress. Like, it might be a THIRD wedding dress! Or, mom’s wedding dress. It might be one of those “What was she thinking!” dresses! You know- the ones with giant bows on the back, or a “mermaid” dress that definitely has the market share on pearls!
Every dress is a treasure and is treated as such. The donor gets a tour of what we do and what is being worked on that day. Meanwhile, back at the sewing machines… On any given day we are together, there are anywhere up to 10 machines whirring and making magic into dresses for a Prince or Princess. The volunteers are mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, and even those who have never had a child. There are mothers who meet fellow travelers on the road of grief that they can share their story with; mothers who have been a recipient of a gown, who want to give back. And everyone has a story. We ALWAYS have lunch together. Breaking bread together is an important part of bonding together, and sharing our stories is a way of healing.
So, what do we really do? We make dear and cherished friends, build relationships, heal wounds and laugh and cry together as family. AND we make these precious, heirloom quality gowns for tiny angels who got their wings too soon.