project "HOPE"....

Many know the reason(s), well the ONE reason actually, that I started photography, many more don't.
On April 16, 2006 I lost my second baby a few days before birth. We named her Kate Elizabeth, and we buried her sweet little body by her grandma Rosan.
During our short hospital stay, on Easter morning, a nurse offered to take pictures of our short time with Kate. These few pictures changed is the only thing that remains of her, here on earth with me. Her sweet smell is gone, I have a hard time remembering her face, her body can't be held, and I never got to hear her sweet little laugh. This is me with Kate...I love this picture, I love that my husband stood by me to wipe the tears.
But I did get photos, and that changed my life. My main goal when I started was to volunteer for "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep". To be able to give back what I was given was my one goal...but now that I've gotten into photography this past year, I really want to focus on the "HOPE". I want to put a face to those who grieve, a story for those who don't know where to turn, and some peace that time does heal, and life does indeed remain happy and hopeful.
So this is the start (FINALLY) of Project HOPE...the Kate Elizabeth Randle foundation.
The first part of this is to be able to take photos of those who have lost children. I want to publish a book so that others can see the faces of hope and healing.

My recovery started when I met Marcie, who also suffered a late term still-born little boy. She was so beautiful and she survived, that was really important for me to see. It changed my perspective and gave me hope.

There are so many things that I want to do, but for now I am going to focus on families that have lost a child, and haven't had a "new" family picture taken. By new I mean, one without their child in it. I have a few awesome photographer friends on board, willing to donate their time and experience to help me get this started.

But a few months ago I had the chance to take the Franklin family pictures. They lost their daughter Chelsea almost three years ago, and they agreed to have their pictures done. They are an incredibly beautiful, amazing family, and if you saw them on the street you would never know.

I sure hope that I brought some measure of peace to them...but I know it brought a lot of peace to me, so thank you for letting me photograph your family.

Here are a few pictures of the session.

More to come about Project Hope in the coming months...

If you know a family who would want this done for them please contact me.
It's completely free of charge, with 15-20 images on a high-res disc.


Erin said...

Allyson - You are amazing. What a great idea. If you need more photographers I would LOVE to help. I lost a sister when I was little and I can totally see how this would help out grieving families so much.

Hillary said...

So awesome Ally. Love the pics.

ShOrt StoRy said...

So so so proud of you! Thanks for making me cry today! Jeez!;)
You are awesome,and an amazing photographer and person!

Sarah said...

This post is amazing! I think this is a HUGE rewarding thing you're doing! Again....thank you for doing this for Wendy....and for anyone else you will come in contact with that needs this lift and reminder that life goes on! Heaven knows our family has experienced loss and having to pick up and move on is one of the hardest things to do! You and Nate are the most incredible examples of for you to reach out to others will definitely make a difference in their lives, just by knowing you! The Lord has blessed you immensely with this talent of yours....!!! Love ya!

Franklin Times said...

Where do I begin? First: The picture of you and Kate is heartbreaking, yet priceless. What a treasured gift. Thank you for sharing it. Second: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this for our family. I am so thankful for you and how you helped us reach a new level of healing. Thank you for letting us be a part of your project HOPE! The blessing really was ours, but I pray you will continue to be blessed as you share this gift and talent with others. Second, thank you for being you! What a couragous and noble thing to turn tragedy into truimph. That is not always easy. But, as we do our best to have hope and faith, we can all endure and move forward. Please let me know if I can help you with this project in ANY way. I would love to do leg work, paperwork, photo assist, whatever you need. Thanks again my new, dear friend. Your amazing :) Wendy Franklin

Sharon said...

It's hard to express how special I think you are. I'm so proud of you, and your efforts to comfort those in need of comfort. I'm glad you've started Project Hope. You're wonderful!

Shanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanda said...

Sorry i deleted my post somehow:
Allyson, you are an amazing person. I distinctly remember you mentioning your desire to do this at the SWB workshop and I’m so happy that you’ve made it a reality. This will bring about so much joy and healing to so many families. I see big things for this project. I would also love to help in any way. Your story is amazing and also heartbreaking at the same time. I think publishing a book would be such an amazing thing and it would be something that could be of additional help to these families and something those that may not want their pictures taken can cherish. You are a wonderful photographer and an inspirational person! That photograph of you and your beautiful girl is priceless. It's wonderful your nurse was able to help capture this for you!

Peterson Clan said...

Oh my sweet little Allyson!! I just LOVE you so dearly and think you are amazing for starting this project!! Look at the few lives you have already touched in just a few days...what an inspiration this will be for you and others who have suffered a loss of a loved one! I still love that picture of you holding Kate and I am sure you will always treasure that forever! What a blessing, that she was able to capture such a sweet and sacred moment that you shared with Kate! I am so excited for you and Project HOPE!! I just love the whole idea...and I love you so much Ally!!! :) Love-Jenn

Suzanne said...

Congrats on getting this under way. The pictures are beautiful. You're the best!

Mandy said...

So proud of my little friend Ally! Thanks for being such an inspiration. I know you will comfort and bless so many families with this wonderful project.

Jessica Kettle said...

dude. you are awesome and i am SOOO happy you are officially launching project hope. i, for one, cannot WAIT to be a part of it in any way i can!! much love lady.

melanie said...

Oh, Ally!! That picture still makes me cry!! I love all the emotion and love and sweetness!! You are amazing! I cant wait to see you guys over the holidays! xoxoxo

Julie Parker said...

Count me in! I so love the picture of you and Kate! You are an awesome friend, photographer and person! Love ya!

Emily said...

So I already have a family for you!!! They are a family who just started the MBA program here. She had a stillborn in January and is now expecting again in a few weeks! I'm sure they would love a "new" family picture after their little one is born! They live down here in Provo. I'll get you her info! I love you Ally!

Ryan and Rebekah said...

Tears, tears and more tears. The picture of you and Kate and reading your story sure touched me to the core. I wasn't aware of all the details and that being your inspiration for photography. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It really helps put things in perspective and I love that I now adore you on a whole new level!
Honestly, turning your pain into comfort, understanding and hope for others is such an inspirational thing. May God Bless you in all your efforts Ally. I know you will be successful in with this project. Your family is blessed to have you!

Baker Family said...

I saw this post from a friend of mine on facebook, and have tears in my eyes as I read. I delivered our sweet stillborn baby Molly Claire on the 27th of August, and we are still grieving. If you care to read at all about my story, you can link to my blog, and it is the story titled "A little piece of Heaven in our hearts." I also have more about it in the posts after that. I think it is wonderful that you are participating in the fetal demise photography program. No one was called on our behalf, and I am still bitter about it. We only have a handful of photos, that were taken by the nurses, and they are not very high quality. I didn't find out until after that service was available. Good for you, and what you are doing. You are helping people more than you know :) If you are still looking for families to take pics of, we would love to do it, but will not be available until the end of Feb (as I am starting a crazy diet, and will be done then). :) I was hoping at that time, to get a new family photo done. Thanks for your post. Risa Baker

~plaid said...

Wow! We share some things in common. I gave birth to a sweet baby boy, Dominic Angelo, on April 16, 2001. I arrived at the hospital in labor on Easter, and he was born early in the morning on Easter Monday. So when I read that your Kate Elizabeth was born exactly five years later it just seemed more personal to me. We didn't have anything like NILMDTS when Dominic died at about 5mths of age. When his sister, Bridget Lucille, had the exact crisis event exactly six years to the day and date later, flown to the same hospital Dominic had been flown to... I was so grateful for NILMDTS. We had the opportunity to have our little ones at home with us, and we have pictures of them. But it was a comfort to have a sensitive, gifted photographer come and take pictures of that sacred time with us as we said goodbye to our little Bridget. I love the way you plan to use your gift to help others. I do wish we had had the opportunity to have had a professional photographer with the right camera and lighting to get some nice pictures of Bridget before she died. We had plans to get her photos taken, but plans changed before we made it to that appointment. We did have some professional photos done of Dominic while he was alive, but no nice family photo. It's an awkward thing now that they aren't here, trying to figure out how to capture the essence of your entire family when two of them are missing. We use little stuffed animals to represent them in our photos, and that helps me feel they are still remembered and still a very real part of our family. Thanks for sharing this talent with others.

Ally said...

Thank you to all who commented. I have been in touch with a few families that I hope that I may bring some happiness too.
I really need this to be a word-of-mouth project.
I don't feel comfortable reaching out to those going through such loss if they are not ready to take this step.
Please let people know to contact me if they are interested...
Thanks for everyones support!


Bridget said...

What a touching photo of you AND your husband. Truly. When I first heard of NILMDTS, I loved it. I'm so happy you were able to benefit from it. Both on the receiving and giving end. I can only imagine how heart breaking it would be to go through the entire birthing/labor/delivery and not even hear your baby cry.

I loved your comment about the Franklin family..."if you saw them on the street you would never know". I truly identify with this. I'm sure most don't know your loss and most don't know mine.

Funny thought: My living children are aged 6, 4, 3, and 1. When I go to Costco, they take up most of the cart. I pile in items around them and on the lower part of the cart. I often get the comments: Are all these yours?! I reply yes and then without fail at least one of my children say, "except not Evan. He died." The looks usually turn back to me and I smile and confirm the story. Yes, we are missing one beautiful little boy who would be adding the Y to the craze in my life.

Evan (would be 2.5 years old) woke up early one morning when he was 15 months old. Usually, he liked to play in the mornings and we can only assume that is what he did that morning. He wedged himself under a giant love sac (65 pounds) and couldn't get out. My husband found him just before he was leaving for work. His body was super hot. We took him to the hospital. They worked for 45 minutes doing chest compressions and oxygen and giving him shots of adrenaline to jump start his heart. Devastation doesn't fully express our emotions or sadness.

The only family photo we have Evan in is the one taken when he was 6 weeks old. New baby family photos are so hard because the baby rarely looks in the right direction. Our daughter was born soon after Evan died and it pains me that we'll never have a family photo with everyone included. I know you also feel this pain.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I understand the importance of taking photographs sooner rather than later. I love your Project Hope. There is HOPE after loss. Even deep within the trenches there is hope.

May God bless you as you continue in your great effort. Your internal motivation will see you to the end and give you the will to carry on when it gets hard. You have a great talent for photos, too!

Ally said...

Dear Bridget,
I am so terribly sorry. I can't imagine the panic and total confusion that you had to endure..I honestly think you have such a great way with words, and have such a talent for saying things perfectly. I know our situations are so different, and I just can't imagine losing my child after getting to know them and seeing their sweet spirit..but I know that we find out we are MUCh stronger than we EVER imagined. Again, I know we didn't do it on our own.
(I am moving to Portland,OR next month and we are going to meet up sometime and have lunch! I hear that there is great shopping there.)

I found that the hardest part for me was watching my husband and my then 3 year old daughter grieve. I thought that if I could just take it all from them I could make it better. Sadly, we all have such different ways to grieve and different time-lines.
Also, explaining death to my daughter was not a fun thing for me...she still struggles with certain things especially us leaving. Kindergarten was kind of a nightmare for me.

And I really do think you are due for a family photo...sometime soon! :)

You are such a great inspiration..I'm going to find a way to pull you into my "project" maybe even have you help me write out the families stories?
I will keep reading your blog to stay in touch. Much love, and thanks for your words.


Ally said...

PS. I occasionally read the blog
Her 18 month old died in a freak drowning. She had a quote on her blog the other day from a man who lost his wife..I thought it was perfectly said.
Justin Young wrote, "The refining fire of the Lord is not a pleasant place to be and it takes faith, courage and trust in the Lord that he is shaping you into the person he knows, wants and needs you to be. I consider myself a man of great faith in God and his plan, but I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the greatest faith cannot rescue one from the pangs of grief.

"But I have found that in those moments of deepest sorrow, when my very heart seems to be tearing itself in two, the moments that take me to my knees begging for understanding, peace, love, light, relief ... it is in those moments of humility, left with nothing but a broken heart and contrite spirit, that the greatest lessons of life have been taught and the mysteries of his kingdom are unfolded to view.

"Lessons and teachings that cannot all be shared openly, but cherished privately, and treasured up unto ourselves giving us not the wisdom of man, but the wisdom born of God."

That wisdom, he said, "is forged from the flames of experience and this experience has opened my eyes beyond my own ability to see. And because of this, I believe we should be grateful for the trials we have today because they'll make us who we'll be tomorrow."

Well done's just perfect!

Jena Hendry said...

Those pictures are gorgeous. The first picture of you and your sweet baby is so touching. I think what you are doing is so great. Just in the few days that I was with you, I can tell you are such a strong person. I would really like to volunteer and help you get this started. Will you please let me know what I can do to help? Thanks, your amazing!