Our Hearts Align brings support and resources to families dealing with miscarriage.
Kara Mangum opens a box sitting on the table in front of her. She pulls out pamphlets, tissues, a pin, a handwritten note, chocolates and tea, a journal. It’s a care package she put together for women facing miscarriage. She has dropped at least one of these care packages off at most, if not all, OB-GYN offices in town.
“Our community didn’t have any resources for me,” Kara says. “I want to provide that for others going through miscarriage.”
It wasn’t long after Kara’s own miscarriage that she began thinking about doing something for others. When she went through it, she remembers wanting to talk to someone, wanting resources and feeling that nothing met her needs.
“People don’t talk about it,” Kara says. That’s something she’s hoping to change.
The months following her miscarriage, Kara kept a journal of ideas and experiences she’d just gone through. She wanted to turn her situation into something good and provide others with resources that hadn’t been available to her.
“One day, I just knew something needed to be done,” she says.
Kara’s friend, Kara Brown, approached her with the idea of making a documentary. The plan was to compile several people’s stories into a DVD that they could hand out. Over time, the idea morphed into an organization. With the development of a website, Our Hearts Align now provides free access to individual interviews under the ‘Aligned’ section of the organization’s website. The blog format enables this section of the website to contain both written and video stories.
With the help of her three board members, Kara formed Our Hearts Align to provide comfort and resources to families going through miscarriage. It took a few years for the organization to come together, but Kara feels this is her passion and purpose.
“It’s comforting to me that I can provide comfort to others,” Kara says.
The name ‘Our Hearts Align’ represents the whole concept of the organization. Kara hopes to bring families together to connect and align with each other through shared experiences. She wants moms and dads to know they are not alone.
A Strong Start
Our Hearts Align officially launched in October 2017 during National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. OHA had several events lined up throughout the month to kick things off. They partnered with the Bump, Baby & Beyond Expo, and Kara met many supportive moms and gave out commemorative pins for them to wear. OHA also hosted a rock-painting party and held a special candle-lighting ceremony on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. For this ceremony, several families gathered at Tuscawilla Park, lighting candles in remembrance of lost children.
Kara also began a monthly support group to provide a safe and open forum for parents to share their stories, ask questions and get to know each other. Kara’s community on social media has also helped women outside of Ocala to get help, as well.
Kara has worked to build a bank of resources for parents dealing with miscarriage. When someone reaches out to her for help, the first thing she does is find out their current needs and the timeline of their pregnancy and miscarriage. She’s written a book specifically for moms—complete with a stress-relieving coloring section and journaling pages—and she is also working on a children’s book to help parents explain the concept of miscarriage to their children. Though Kara didn’t have children at the time of her miscarriage, she did have nieces and nephews who were excited for her baby to arrive. Explaining that the baby would not be coming wasn’t easy.
Once Kara knows what someone needs, she can point them in the right direction. That could mean sending them links to the many resources on OHA’s website, connecting them with a counselor or doctor, plugging them into the monthly support group or inviting them to be part of her Facebook forum.
Board member Jennifer Ortiz-Correa is a maternal mental health counselor. She attends the support group meetings to provide input in discussions, and she’s available for appointments. Kara’s other board members, Kara Brown and Rebecca Neville, are essential to running the organization, as well. Kara Brown handles the website and videography, and Rebecca takes care of taxes, federal guidelines and treasury aspects.
This is only the beginning for OHA. In the future, Kara Mangum hopes to book speaking engagements, fund more research on miscarriage and spread OHA as far as possible. She wants all mothers and fathers to know it’s OK to talk about pregnancy loss and that so many others have gone through it and are going through it, too.
“Part of the purpose is to assure moms [and dads] that they’re not alone,” Kara says.
Learn more › ourheartsalign.org