An ‘Amazing’ Chance’s Clothing Project Decade for Founder | Keeper Cowra

Chance’s Clothing Project (CCP) celebrated its 10th anniversaryand anniversary.

Providing support to families stricken by the tragedy of stillbirth, the project was founded in 2012 by Nikki Kiss, after her daughter Chance, for whom the project is named, was stillborn at eight and a half months.

Since then, the project has grown from local knitters serving Cowra Hospital alone to sending packs across Australia with over 200 knitters around the world.

Nikki said she was amazed at how far the project has come in just 10 years.

“When I first started I just wanted to see if I could get a few ladies to knit a few blankets, so we had some items for our local hospital because I’m so slow at knitting,” she said.

“But by the time the word got out, in March (2012) when I had had enough for Cowra Hospital and our auspice with the Cowra Information and Neighborhood Center (CINC) came along, I had actually had enough. items to go to the hospital in Bathurst and Orange .

“That was how fast it took off and it kept rolling.

“I was getting a message from someone in South Australia and they were saying ‘we need stuff at our hospital’, it just took off from there.”

In 2020, the CCP managed to contact every hospital in Australia, with 68% of hospitals (183 in total, 50 more than once) accepting their special packs of burial clothes and wraps.

Nikki said that over the past decade, she’s been surprised how often people have tried to create similar concepts, but haven’t had as much success.

“These ladies may be making so many little jackets all in the same size and they’re absolutely gorgeous, but a hospital may only need one every two years,” she said.

“So if a lady comes in and offers 20 little jackets, that’s too much of an item, and if they’re not packed properly, they can be put in the bottom of a bag or a draw and when they’re necessary, they do not look to the right.

“So I think one of the reasons for our success, and there’s a tremendous amount of integrity and reliability, is that we’ve been able to standardize something.

“With our individual, vacuum sealed packages, nurses can look at size, gender or if it’s gender neutral, they can check that it will fit before they even open the package and that it will be suitable for what baby.

“The hospitals that haven’t accepted (the packs) have been because they have a local CWA group supplying them, they only have a very small maternity unit that doesn’t need them or they don’t ‘have no maternity unit at all.’

Ms Kiss said that if she had known from the start how big the project would grow she might never have taken it on, but in saying this she said she was touched by the friendships developed by artisans and the messages of support she received from families. .

“It’s a huge responsibility and commitment and if you’re given these things right away, it’s too much of a pain,” she said.

“But it gradually grew and got bigger and bigger, so I learned to adapt and take on those responsibilities.

“It’s all surprising to me when I look at where it went and where it came from, but because I deal with it on a daily basis, I keep running with it.

“I sit and think ‘oh my God’, these people (the artisans) are traveling overseas, at least before COVID, and they were able to meet through Chance and develop this strong friendship.

“Then the hospitals and the families have all been extremely supportive and grateful, it never ceases to amaze me and that’s another reason why I kept doing it.

“Every time I speak to a parent, their story is unique and they want to be heard, understood and appreciated and their baby will not remember them.

“Over the past 10 years, I have had many personal stories, but each of them is significant.

“The day it gets a little jaded, I might not care but hopefully it never will.”

Ms Kiss said the strength of the project ultimately came down to the hours of effort artisans and volunteers had put in over the decade.

“I used to think of Chance more as a spoke-and-cog type concept, but I realized that I do so little but orchestrate now,” she said.

“It’s like an orchestra, if the volunteers didn’t do the work it wouldn’t happen, I’m just up there giving advice and instructions.

“They do all the work, I don’t think they realize how critical they are in all of this.

“They say ‘it’s just a little pair of slippers’ or ‘it’s just a blanket’, but that’s what they all do and it’s literally hundreds of volunteers.

“In Cowra we might only have eight to 10 people at the coal face, but we would have at least 20 volunteers all over town and then we would multiply that across Australia, so it’s literally hundreds of people who contribute.”

Ms Kiss said she looked forward to what the next decade holds for the project.

“We have reached a sustainable level and there are many things that I would like to see evolve,” she said.

“I would love to see us go straight to emergency services, go overseas, I really feel like we should be able to give back overseas, but the bigger issue is postage.

“We have a year’s supply in advance, which we realistically need and I’m amazed we’ve reached this level.

“I never saw it coming, I’m so grateful to CINC for allowing us to be their auspice.

“They gave us a home, a place where our packages can arrive, a place to have our volunteers so they can come to work at different times, giving us a home base and a family.”

About Oscar L. Smith

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