Faithfully Restored Women, a faith-based group, was started by four close friends who've experienced more than their share of adversity. Recognizing the comfort they found in each other and from their faith encouraged them to seek ways to offer hope to others.
“Our friend group, for being in our 30s, has really gone through some pretty major life events,” says Executive Director Jamie Heard.
In the summer of 2015, Heather Milburn, the development director, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30; she relapsed in 2017. “When I was young, my mom passed away from breast cancer; it’s hereditary,” she says. “Then my father passed away a year later.”
With two young children of her own, she's thankful for her faith and trusts in God’s plan.
“My mom knew where she was going and one day, we would all see each other again,” says Heather. “Now being in the situation that I’m in, I cling to that.”
Jamie also relied heavily on friends and faith to persevere through tragedy. “When I was 25, three months before my wedding, my dad committed suicide; that was the first thing that rocked my faith,” she says.
Having grown up in the church, she initially was angry at God. But a few years later, after moving to Nashville with her husband, she found Fellowship Church in Brentwood. “That really helped me have a strong foundation,” she confirms.
This foundation would be paramount in getting through one of the greatest losses a parent can suffer.
“In December 2015, we had a daughter named Madeline and a son named William,” says Jamie. “When he was 2 ½, William choked at lunch and later passed away. After that happened, I was in such a different place in my faith that I could look back and really see God was preparing me for losing William. I trusted Him and no matter what happened, I knew it was going to be OK.”
Six months after William died, Jennie Rebecca Springer, Faithfully Restored board secretary, lost her 7-year-old son, Hayes, in a car accident.
“That’s how we connected,” says Jamie. “We had a mutual friend who told me what happened. I reached out, sent her a book, wrote her a note, and we met, and that relationship's been so sweet because you each know the depth of pain you’ve experienced. As much as my friends were there for me, they don’t really know what it’s like.”
So today, through Faithfully Restored, the group sends encouraging notes and care packages. They also try to match prayer partners with people who have gone through similar situations.
Jamie Hamilton, the president of the board, has dealt with her own struggles of infertility. She and her husband eventually adopted Jack and Stella to complete their family. Today, the group helps support adoptive and foster families as well.
Faithfully Restored grew to provide other services to help women.
“At first, it was the four of us meeting once a month at our homes, writing encouraging notes,” says Jamie. “Any money we spent was out of our pockets. It’s been neat now to have donors walk alongside us and dream of what else we can do. We’re so blessed and thankful.”
Just the other day, she says, she met with a 44-year-old woman who'd witnessed her son being murdered. This mom decided to go back to school to get her counseling degree, but she was short $1,500. When Jamie told her the group would give her that money, the woman broke down in tears.
Faithfully Restored held its first fundraiser in April. Because of COVID-19, it was a virtual event. The focus was not only on raising funds but also on telling William’s story and how, after he died, his heart was donated. “We were presented with the gift of organ donation, and we said yes,” shares Jamie. “His heart went to an 18-month-old girl named Ava. Within 24 hours after surgery, we had connected with her family. It was undeniably God’s plan.”
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who is one of Jamie’s friends, interviewed her and Amie (Ava’s mother) during the fundraising event.
“We also had three amazing songwriters (Luke Laird, Lee Thomas Miller, and Jordan Reynolds) sign up, and we called it 'Stories from the Heart,’” Jamie says. “We did it live from the Loveless and broadcast it on YouTube and Facebook. We had $136,000 come in for Faithfully Restored.”
Their goal for November and December will be supporting families who've experienced loss. They’ll be expanding the group’s Amazon wish list and holding Giving Tuesdays. In addition, they have an ongoing monthly program called Hope Builders, and donations also can be made by texting the word “Give” to 615.551.3737.
“Our friend group, for being in our 30s, has really gone through some pretty major life events.”
“It’s been neat now to have donors walk alongside us and dream of what else we can do. We’re so blessed and thankful.”