By Shelby Parker
Jul 31, 2021
The mission of the Noel Alexandria Foundation is to provide awareness, raise awareness and provide support to those who have experienced infant and pregnancy loss.
Photo provided by Trinity Brown
When a couple finds out they’re expecting a child, they start dreaming of future milestone moments — the first day of school, proms, a wedding. They never imagine they’ll suddenly have to rethink what that looked like to plan a funeral, something no parent should ever have to go through.
It’s out of that grief that the Noel Alexandria Foundation was born in 2018.
In October 2017, Trinity Brown experienced a stillbirth. After going through that, she realized the lack of resources that were available in Kern County for families that experienced pregnancy and infant loss.
“Basically our mission is just to provide awareness, raise awareness and provide support,” said Brown, the foundation's founder.
The Noel Alexandria Foundation, named after Brown’s daughter to keep her legacy alive, assists in finding educational and emotional resources for families who have had to face such challenging circumstances.
The foundation brings in doctors and other medical professionals within the fields related to pregnancy to discuss the various processes and how couples can try to start a family. As for emotional needs, support groups are provided twice a month, every first and third Thursday. There is financial assistance through their memorial fund and educational resources.
Mental health counselors are also offered, addressing everything from healthy coping skills to what walking through grief looks like.
Since the foundation’s launch, it has helped many women and families through their loss.
Bettina Bruce found out about the organization from her sister-in-law who works at a prenatal yoga business, The Nest and Co. Coworkers told her about the group after Bruce and her husband lost their twin daughters in March 2019.
“The support group has helped us to learn how to communicate our needs to our friends and family as we were processing our grief. The support group also remembers and celebrates every angel baby’s birthday, as well as remembers us on special holidays,” Bruce said.
The support group has also allowed them to connect with other families who have suffered an infant loss or miscarriage, to bond with others who have gone through a similar situation and support one another.
"You don’t have to suffer in silence after experiencing loss. You have someone you can call or talk to that can try to help you process the grief," Bruce said.
She added that it’s a safe place to express your emotions and get support for how to handle those emotions, too.
“It is a charity that is trying to break the stigma of talking about miscarriage and infant loss,” said Bruce.
Toni Jones has personally known Brown and her family for some time. She and her husband, Kevin, had experienced a loss of their own, and the following year, Brown lost her daughter.
Brown reached out to them and asked if they would pray for them, so Toni went to the hospital to pray and encourage them.
Because Toni had just walked through the same thing, she knew what to say and knew what would make them feel OK.
They were still in the healing process, so the Jones couple didn’t join the foundation until a year ago.
“When we started to participate, I felt like I wished I would have done this sooner,” said Toni.
The information given in the meetings has been so helpful and has allowed Toni to work through PTSD after losing their babies.
She and Kevin also found it encouraging to hear from other couples who have lost children, but are a little further along in their healing process. It gave her a sense of how they can potentially deal with it.
Toni now carries Noel Alexandria cards with her and feels that she’s been able to meet many others who have shared that loss and grief.
“It’s been a blessing for me to be able to offer that information to them,” said Toni.
At the beginning, Toni wasn’t quite sure that she wanted to go to a place where everyone is crying and grieving, but it wasn’t like that at all.
Kevin also pointed out that as men, they’re not often encouraged to show their emotions or to be vulnerable.
“You don’t always have to be strong, especially when you’re in the thick of it — organizations such as the Noel Alexandria Foundation can be that strength for you,” said Kevin.
You never know how you will, or how your process, will help someone else through the same situation. Which is what the Jones couple came in contact with.
Brown said they’ve had really good responses to the foundation and have had a lot of people come behind them and support.
Currently, Brown is working with local hospitals and training others to go into the hospitals and talk to women who have lost children, to prepare them more for what they’re about to walk into, as well as help them financially with the expenses of funerals and other unforeseen costs.
“A lot of families are very thankful to receive that financial assistance and then the emotional support,” said Brown. “I mean, just knowing there are other families out there that have gone through the same thing. It’s a really big deal for families to know that they’re not going through this alone.”
Brown said she doesn’t think people realize how common it is because it’s not something that is talked about a lot.
“I think being able to start talking about it more allows families to not have to suffer and go through just moving on in silence, and not being able to express their emotions,” said Brown.
Brown explained that when she walked through her loss, she was fortunate to know what to do and what it would look like, and that’s why she wants to give back to the community.
“I didn’t want her to be forgotten as if she didn’t exist, and that’s what we talk about in our support groups, is keeping our babies and their memories alive,” said Brown.
The organization also does fundraisers throughout the year, like the Running with the Angels 5K run/walk in October. It's another way parents can honor the lives of their children.
Families don’t have to suffer in silence. It's about community and helping one another through the Noel Alexandria Foundation.
Those interested in seeking help, donating or volunteering with the organization are welcomed to do so anytime through the website at noelalexandriafoundation.org.