Organization helps parents who lose their child at birth - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Organization helps parents who lose their child at birth

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Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 6:49 am

Former Ahwatukee Foothills resident Shayla Van Hofwegen and her husband, Ferrari, discovered that through tragedy, a meaningful idea can be born.

The married couple went through an experience that no hopeful parents want to go through. And it happened to them five different times.

On her blog, Shayla writes that “I am a mommy to five beautiful children in heaven.” The Van Hofwegens experienced that tragedy through three miscarriages and twins born prematurely at 22 weeks.

Their goal now is to help other couples who find themselves in the same position. They started Owl Love You Forever as a way to help parents who leave the hospital without their son or daughter with something positive.

“When you get to the hospital you are not expecting to lose your child,” Shayla said. “The biggest thing was leaving the hospital and not knowing one person who had gone through it. But through this organization, I have met wonderful people who I never would have met otherwise.”

They put together boxes with certain items for parents to take home. Inside the box are things like a disposable camera, a candle, a stuffed owl and a blanket set. The blanket set comes with two matching blankets, a smaller one for the child and a larger one for the parent to take home, to remember the life of their child, no matter how short it was.

“To have this box, with everything you possibly need to make special experience for you child, it just makes them feel like somebody thought of them and thought of their child,” Shayla said.

The boxes are put together and sent to hospitals around the Phoenix area. Shayla said that Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale was a recent recipient of a shipment of boxes.

The idea was born when Shayla said she wanted to make a donation in honor of the twins’ birthday. With the help of her friends and family, that idea turned from a single donation into the website and donations came pouring in.

“We had been through so much loss and there wasn’t much they could do physically to make me feel better,” Shayla said. “But when this started, they could give through the organization. It has been more than I ever could have expected. I thank God that they are in my life.”

If you would like to help the Van Hofwegens, donations can be made through their website, A box can be purchased and donated for $25. Shayla’s blog can be found at

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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