GALWAY – The holidays can be a bittersweet time, especially for those who have lost a baby.
It’s part of the reason Galway residents Amy and Kyle Greth created the Ohana Foundation, which provides financial and community support for those who have suffered such a loss. It also provides families personalized ornaments around the holidays in honor of their lost child.
“I think it’s really important just to hear your baby’s name from someone other than yourself because someone is recognizing your baby’s life and honoring your baby’s life,” Amy Greth said.
The Greths started the non-profit foundation in 2015, a year after they lost their second son, Noah, at 24 weeks.
“Throughout the year, when everything was still raw for us, it just kept popping up in my mind. I really feel like something is calling me to do something in our community for families like ours that have gone through similar experiences with losing a baby,” Greth said.
With the support of family and friends, they started raising money to help families with funeral expenses and created a support group for moms.
“We are a pretty big family and I couldn’t have gotten through it without them, and I feel like we need that support whether it’s blood family or not, your friends, your co-workers, people that you meet along the way. That’s really what Ohana is about is coming together and honoring the baby throughout the years, not just right after the funeral,” Greth said.
They also started a Remembrance Program, which includes a candle-lighting ceremony on Oct. 15, National Pregnancy and Infant Day.
“That’s the main event that I really love and look forward to every year because we’ve got families coming together from the entire Capital Region. Some families drive over an hour to get to the event and we end up making connections. It’s great,” Greth said.
This year, they held a virtual ceremony because of the pandemic, and Greth said even more people tuned in to watch.
The holiday ornaments are also a part of the program. They pick a different ornament each year and each one will include the baby’s name on it. Families receive the ornament, which features angel wings and a heart this year, along with a handwritten note from Ohana at no charge.
For many families, it’s a way to honor their baby and a reminder that they’re not alone.
“Not a lot of people want to bring it up; they don’t want to make you sad. So when they get our ornament with the baby’s name on it around the holidays, it’s a reminder that their baby existed and it’s a reminder … that there is support out there for them,” Greth said. “It’s such a simple thing but it’s really important. A lot of times, when you’re a mom and you have lost a baby, it’s a really tough holiday. Just to get something small, we don’t spend a lot of money from the donations on this, but the impact adds up.”
They also bring siblings and other family members together.
“The ornaments are a wonderful way to include children in honoring their sibling by opening the package together, hanging it on the tree and reflecting on it throughout the holiday season. It gives families a reason to talk about the baby they lost and talking is healing,” Greth said.
In previous years, they’ve had requests for around 30 ornaments, but their count doubled this year and is up to 65, all of which are going to families across the Capital Region. Families often send the foundation photos of the ornaments through social media or email.
“Most of the pictures I receive with the ornaments are [of] siblings very excited to hang the ornament that has their siblings’ name on it! Now that’s a celebration!” Greth said.
For more information on the Ohana Foundation, visit ohanafoundationinc.org.