The charity is supported by two grandmothers following the death of their 21-day-old granddaughter in 2004.
Patty Goonen was anticipating the birth of her daughter’s first child in 2004, a little girl who would be named Julie. But that joy was short-lived; the baby, born full-term on Nov. 24 at Arnold Palmer Hospital, survived only 21 days.
Julie’s paternal grandmother needed a way to channel her grief, so she founded Julie’s Mission the following year.
“She was inspired to honor her life by establishing a charity that would provide items of healing and comfort for critically ill babies and their families,” Goonen said.
Since 2004, more than 4,000 handmade items have been sent annually to 30 hospitals in Florida and the United States. Many are given to Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando.
More than 300 volunteers sew, knit and crochet items requested by the hospitals. Incubator blankets with the mother’s scent are placed on babies. Baptismal dresses are made for christenings. Quilted memory envelopes give families of babies who don’t survive a place to hold keepsakes. Volunteers make hats and booties, too.
CONTINUING THE MISSION
Goonen, a Windermere resident, serves as fundraising chair for the nonprofit. She has organized an author luncheon to raise money to help purchase materials and pay for shipping the handmade pieces. TooJay’s Original Gourmet Deli is catering the meal.
Orlando columnist and author Greg Dawson and his wife, Candy, will speak at the event. His book, “Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy’s Story of Survival,” tells the incredible story of his Jewish mother, Zhanna Arshanskaya, who escaped the Ukraine during the Holocaust and survived with a new identity and because of her musical genius.
Dawson will be selling and signing copies of his book.
A silent auction and raffle also will be held. Goonen said donated items include a Hummel figurine from Melvin’s Gardens, two tool sets from Lowe’s, two dinners from Cracker Barrel, a Brighton watch from Boutique on Park, handmade items from various private donors, framed artwork, art classes at The Art Room and two movie passes from West Orange Cinema. Themed gift baskets, as well as baskets of snacks and books, have been donated as well.
Goonen is still accepting donated gift baskets for the fundraiser; to inquire, call her at (407) 234-8471 or email her at [email protected]. Donation checks can be mailed to Julie’s Mission, 2910 Marquesas Court, Windermere, Florida 34786.
Will and Cathy Brantley welcomed baby Julie into their family at 10:32 a.m. Nov. 24, 2004. The Brantley and Goonen families heard Julie cry only once in her three weeks of life, but the baby learned to recognize her family’s voices and responded with a movement, hand grip and, at times, an increased heart rate. Doctors learned the extent of Julie’s medical issues during exploratory surgery but were unable to save her.
The Brantleys eventually had two more children, Colton and Adelyne.
Their mother, Cathy Goonen Brantley, is a graduate of West Orange High School.