Footprints on the Heart continues outreach

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Continuing to offer “hope and encouragement” to those experiencing pregnancy or infant loss, Footprints on the Heart’s supporters are bustling with activity this month.

“April is certainly kicking off to be a very busy month for our ministry, as we partner with local author Marly Grace Wiles for the release of ‘Cooper’s Christmas’ on the 15th, Comcast Cares Day on the 22nd and our Trail Run/Walk on the 30th,” said Khristie Staines, president and co-founder of Footprints on the Heart. “We have been busy during the month of February and March as well. We joined the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce [in] February; Cartersville First Baptist Church/February and Emerson First Baptist Church/March held volunteer sessions for our ministry; and we gained two new board members, Nichole Davis and Morgan Hardin [in] March.

“... We hope others will see that Footprints on the Heart is committed to serving our community. Whether that is through volunteer hours spent partnering with other organizations, community outreach efforts or serving families during their darkest hour. Almost daily we meet families who have been affected by loss. We may be in line at the grocery store, at the ballpark watching our children play baseball, at a community event or just talking to friends and family when these precious babies are introduced to us. Each of these babies forever hold a piece of my heart. I carry them with me, and they are the reason that we do what we do year-round.”

She continued, “This ministry has never been about us. It has always been about our loss families. Offering them hope and encouragement for the journey ahead. Sharing God’s promise that although we can never bring these babies back to earth, we can certainly join them in heaven some day. It is through the generosity of the Brannon family, the Jorgensen family and the Gordon Hospital family that our upcoming trail run will allow us to introduce our ministry to additional community members and loss families. We have several families who have lost babies in the past three months that will be joining us for the first time this year. We have communicated with them so often since the passing of their precious babies, and we look forward to standing alongside them on April 30.”

As Staines noted, Footprints on the Heart volunteers will take part in projects, ranging from building picnic tables to planting flowers during Comcast Cares Day at Emerson Elementary School.

“Footprints on the Heart is hoping to have at least 50 of our volunteers come out on April 22,” Staines said. “With just two weeks to go before the event, we know that we need to get these volunteers registered as quickly as possible. Footprints on the Heart first learned about Comcast Cares Day in 2016 from Pamela Whitfield of Soul Sistas Run organization. It was Pam who encouraged us to volunteer at the event held last year at Mission Road Elementary. It was a blessing this year when Kheisha Harrison, Comcast Cares Day project/site coordinator, reached out to Footprints on the Heart and invited us to participate in the Emerson project. She stated that she had kept an eye on our ministry and saw that we had achieved our 501(c)(3) status in 2016, thus making us eligible to earn a much needed grant opportunity from the Comcast Foundation. We are thankful to her for thinking of us.

“Footprints on the Heart has spent six years being involved in various community outreach opportunities and this event is no exception. It is always our blessing to give back to our community, and we know that helping to beautify our local schools is a great way to do that. It is awesome to see the way all of the volunteers work together to complete these community projects. Last year, Comcast Cares Day was host to two events in Bartow County with over 300 volunteers total participating. Volunteers of all ages came together and worked side by side for several hours, and it was a beautiful thing.”

Based in Kingston, Footprints on the Heart is in its seventh year of providing projects and outreach efforts to the community.

According to the nonprofit’s Facebook page, “Footprints on the Heart’s mission is to raise awareness and education for pregnancy and infant loss — up to age 2. Based on biblical truths — Jeremiah 1:5, Ecclesiastes 3:1 and Psalm 34:18 — we believe each life is precious, no matter how short lived, and leaves a lasting legacy of love.

“Footprints on the Heart envisions a society where families no longer have to bear the burden of pregnancy and infant loss in silence, but instead are able to openly share their loss journey. Through community efforts, sharing bereavement materials and the opportunity to connect with others who have experienced loss, we encourage individuals to grieve and grow in a healthy manner.”

Set for April 30 at 7:30 a.m., the Footprints on the Heart 5K Trail Run/1 Mile Walk will be held at Sweet Velo Blue, 352 White Graves Road N.E. in Ranger. To enter, participants need to register in advance at http://sceniccitymultisportllc.com/events/2017/4/30/footprints-on-the-heart or on the event day at 7 a.m. Entry fees will range from $8.50 to $25. Proceeds from the event, which also will include a memorial balloon release, will benefit Footprints on the Heart’s outreach efforts.

“I received a PM [private message] from nurse Pam on Dec. 17, 2016, around 1:36 p.m. asking if I might be available, as there was a family that might be needing the services of our ministry,” Staines said. “I had just arrived at my family’s Christmas dinner. However, I knew that during a loss, time was of the essence, so I ate quickly and immediately began making phone calls and texting to get things quickly into place. We gathered additional items for our bereavement package, and waited, and prayed and waited. I checked in with Pam often and as it turned out this sweet baby girl would be born still the following day, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, just shortly before 7 a.m.

“... I would finally arrive at the hospital. I met Laurie, a volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and she did an amazing job of taking beautiful photos of Kimber. It was a moment frozen in time through the lens of her camera. Later that morning before leaving, nurse Stacy introduced me to Dr. David Brannon. After only a few moments of talking about FOTH, how our ministry began, if we ever held fundraisers and if so had we ever held a 5K, Dr. Brannon on the spot offered to host a trail run to benefit FOTH. ... To say I was surprised would be an understatement. Yet I truly believe that God used Dr. Brannon, Stacy, Pam, Kimber and our divine appointment to meet one another on that very day to answer the cries of my heart in which I was seeking his direction and clarity. I drove home that day excited and hopeful that the event would come together in the spring.”

For more information about Footprints on the Heart, call Staines at 770-547-4333, email footprintsontheheart.pail.ga@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/footprintsontheheart.ga.