Our local communities are full of dedicated nonprofits with inspiring missions. TS Prosperity Group wants to celebrate some of these nonprofits by featuring them in our Investing For Good blog series. Next up in the series is Faith’s Friends, located in Atlantic, Iowa. Christina Bateman serves as Founder and CEO. Read our interview with Bateman below and stay tuned for additional inspiration from nonprofits serving our community.
Tell us about your nonprofit and its mission.
Faith’s Friends is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to help relieve financial burdens during times of infant loss by helping pay for funeral, headstone and burial costs of infants and young children who pass away. Parents who lose a baby or young child often have many other financial commitments including: a mortgage or rent, car payments, student loans and daycare costs for other children. They simply don’t have thousands of dollars set aside to pay for the funeral costs associated with the loss of a young child.
Faith’s Friends helps ease the financial hardships related to child loss so the family can spend their time dealing with their grief. Starting in 2019, we offer up to $1,000 for funeral costs, up to $1,000 for burial costs and up to $2,000 for headstone costs based on funds available and financial need.
How and when was your organization started?
Faith’s Friends was originally started in memory of our daughter, Faith Bateman, who passed away at 1 ½ hours old in July of 2010 due to a genetic abnormality that we learned about at 20 weeks into the pregnancy. I knew when I was still pregnant with her that I wanted to help other children in memory of her, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to do that.
I spent a lot of time at the cemetery where Faith is buried the first few years after her death. One day, I walked by the grave of a baby who had passed away before Faith, and that baby still had the temporary grave marker that the funeral home sets. It was like God was showing me at that moment how I should help other families in memory of Faith.
On March 23, 2017, Faith’s Friends was officially formed. In October of 2017, we lost identical twin girls, Belle and Reese, during my pregnancy and so we also operate Faith’s Friends in memory of Belle and Reese.
Where are you at today and what are your future goals?
To date, we have been able to help six families pay for funeral, burial and headstone costs of their precious children. When we originally started, a requirement was that parents must live in Cass County, Iowa to receive assistance from Faith’s Friends. In 2019, we expanded to any residents of Iowa or Nebraska because we were also seeing the need outside of our area.
This year, we are working on making Faith’s Friends information available to all families who deliver and lose their babies at Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. A lot of the smaller hospitals, including Cass County Memorial Hospital here in Atlantic, send parents to Methodist Women’s Hospital if there is an issue with the baby or mother.
Cass County sent us to Methodist Women’s Hospital when we realized there might be problems with Faith. That’s where we had her and all of our other children, so there is a deep emotional connection for us at that hospital. We hope to continue to work with more hospitals as we continue to grow. We hope to raise $20,000 in 2019 and to continue raising larger amounts as more people become aware of our organization.
Why should someone support your mission?
My passion obviously comes from my experience of the loss of my three precious girls. The loss of a child is one of the worst paths a person can be forced to walk in life. It’s difficult learning how to pick up the pieces after you lose a child, especially because it has traditionally been a topic that people don’t talk about.
People may want to help but they don’t know what to say or do, so they do and say nothing. For the parent who lost their child, this is incredibly difficult. There tends to be a lot of support for a family when their child is sick but after the loss, the available resources tend to swing the other direction.
Fortunately, there are more organizations being formed all the time to help grieving families. Knowing that Faith’s Friends is helping play an important part in supporting families after the loss of their child also helps me in my grieving process. Faith’s Friends is truly a double blessing. I’m making Faith, Belle, and Reese’s lives matter, and that’s what every parent who has lost a child wants.
Someone should support Faith’s Friends because losing a child is one of the most excruciating things a person can experience. The pain never goes away and is something that a parent has to deal with every moment for the rest of their life. There are generally fewer resources in helping deal with a loss, and without help from organizations like ours, it’s a difficult path to navigate.
By helping pay for these often unexpected costs, we are providing that parent with more time to focus on the mental and emotional feelings associated with their loss.
What is one way your organization is helping improve the quality of life in our local area?
We are helping families through the financial burdens of funeral expenses. We want families to have the ability to have a funeral if they desire. We also are trying to help educate our community about child loss through Faith’s Friends. The more a community understands about child loss, the better they can support a grieving parent.
What do you enjoy serving in a nonprofit?
I’ve always loved helping people. It makes me feel good that I’m helping in someone’s life even in a small way. We tend to think that we have to change the whole world to make a difference, but really, a lot of the time it’s the small things done for someone else that forever changes their life.
How have your life experiences brought you to where you are today?
I personally believe God uses every single thing that happens in your life to make you into the person you are supposed to be, that then equips you for the specific purpose He has for your life. Losing my three girls is the most difficult thing that has happened which has formed my path to helping others through Faith’s Friends. But I also believe God has used lots of smaller experiences along the way to direct me this way, so I can serve to the best of my ability with the organization.
What do you find is your biggest challenge?
I think one of the biggest challenges in any nonprofit is sustaining fundraising. There are so many amazing organizations doing wonderful things and businesses want to help, but there is only so much money to go around. I think a key to sustaining fundraising is finding the people who have the greatest passion for our cause.
What is your motivation?
My motivation is twofold: Making sure my girls are changing people’s lives even though they aren’t here, and helping others who have been through what I’ve been through.
What’s your secret to success?
Keep at it, whatever it is you’re doing. That is the key to so much. Fall down seven times, stand up eight times as the saying goes.
How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
I try to focus on living in the moment. There is so much to do, and it can get overwhelming. When I can focus on what I’m doing now, more things get done and I’m able to enjoy each of those things more.
What was your biggest life lesson?
Take the bad in your life and create good out of it, and keep going!
What advice would you give other people who are interested in entering the nonprofit sector?
My advice to others who are thinking of serving in a nonprofit or starting a nonprofit is to serve in an area where your greatest passion lies. It’s easy to help others when you are doing what you’re most passionate about.
How can someone get in contact with you?
How are ways others can volunteer or get involved with your organization?
Faith’s Friends mission is focused solely on paying for these expenses for families who have lost a child, so monetary donations are our greatest need. Letting people who may be in need know about our organization is one way they can help. People can also help by being there for someone they know who has lost a child. Remember their child - say their child’s name - that’s the greatest gift you can give these families.
Christina lives in the Atlantic area with her husband and three children, as well as the memory of her other three children Faith, Belle and Reese.