It was Black Friday of 2008. The irony of the day wasn’t lost on Regina Binz as she drove to northwest Arkansas on an impromptu road trip with a close friend. A tiny tunic in tow was the accumulation of an abundance of hard work, trial and error, pain and determination, and more “no’s” than most could take. She walked up to the nurses’ station, showing what she had done. For the first time since starting this unpredictable journey, she heard a resounding “yes.” They could use this, and they could use it right away. Binz said it was a true Black Friday for someone else, but it was also the day she was liberated from her grief.
For Binz, her journey started in April 2007. At only seventeen weeks, her son, Ryan Henry, was delivered stillborn. Amidst the raw, painful emotions she and her husband, Kevin, were experiencing, she was hit with the added heartbreak that there were no clothes to fit her son. Another burden on this darkest of days.
Not long afterward, her grief guiding her, she took to her sewing machine. As she therapeutically worked the fabric, lovingly designed and carefully made, she said she wanted to change that single moment where she had to worry about clothing for her son. She couldn’t, of course—but she could change that moment for others.
With support from family and friends, she approached the medical community and was met with skepticism yet a mass of constructive criticism. She was told the fabric wasn’t soft enough. The babies are just too fragile. It wasn’t right. No, it still wasn’t. Instead of being deterred, she went back to the drawing board each time. If God had placed her on this path, Binz thought, she wasn’t about to walk away because of a roadblock or two.
And then came the day in 2008 when she got a single “yes.” A woman was in labor as they spoke. Her baby would be stillborn. That day, for Binz, a weight was lifted, and she says she hasn’t looked back since.
With her design perfected, Binz began Holy Sews, a ministry providing layette sets for the smallest of babies. Based at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, Binz and her team of volunteers have since provided more than 6,000 layettes to hospitals and funeral homes across the United States. Since 2008, two more chapters have sprung up to help chip in serving more than 150 hospitals, making sure these lovingly sewn layettes—consisting of a small fleece blanket, hooded wrap with matching tunic, a knitted cap, tiny teddy bear, and a prayer card—await grief-stricken parents, allowing them one less burden to think about.
As word spread of the work of Holy Sews, Binz began receiving offers of wedding gowns from women wanting to contribute to her work. At first, she was reluctant. Micro-premature babies have extremely delicate skin, a sequin or bead could cut them. But as she began to take a closer look and work the details into the areas that would not touch a baby, she saw it took the design over the top. Not only were these layettes functional, they were as beautiful as they could possibly be.
What started as a way to work through her own grief has grown into a ministry that provides a gesture of love when it is most desperately needed—from one mother to another, a small token that says “we’ve been there.” Many of those heartbroken mothers have later become volunteers themselves.
Binz is quick to admit she had no idea where this ministry would go or that it would ever have the reach it does today. But on that Black Friday in 2008, Binz said she was just going where she was led. One stitch at a time.
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