But the stillborn arrival of daughter, Paislee Cheyanne, on May 3, 2013, sent them reeling.
Immediately, support poured in from their families, church and community, which provided vital comfort and care as they went through the following hours, days and months of grief.
Later that year, the grateful couple decided they must find a way to pay it back, and so they created Paislee’s Foundation as a means to assist other families in paying for the burials of infants and children up to 3 years old.
In the past three years, Paislee’s Foundation has raised about $10,000 and helped more than 30 families in three states as well as residents of Carthage, Lebanon, Smithville, Sparta, Woodbury and Cookeville.
“Our mission is to support those whose lives are touched tragically within the past six months due to stillbirth, infant loss or child loss up to 3 years old by providing funds to assist with unexpected funeral costs. It is our hope and prayer to help with the healing process,” the couple said on their website.
“We have the philosophy that once we give them the money, they can use it how they need,” Jessica Cripps said. “That might be for funeral expenses, flowers, medical expenses, groceries or light and water bills.”
To raise funds for the charity, the third annual Paislee’s Foundation Craft and Home Show will take place Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. inside the Kenneth Sandlin Center at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria. The facilities are handicapped accessible.
It will feature more than three dozen booths, offering many handmade and unique creations such as jewelry, soaps and lotions, jams and jellies, specialty butters, clothes, crocheted items, furniture, reclaimed wood, baked goods and Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas items.
Jessica Cripps, who grew up in Smithville, works in the Alexandria City Hall as a water and court clerk. Tyler Cripps, who was raised in Alexandria, is a tow-motor driver for Custom Packaging in Lebanon.
“We got married in May 2011 and found out we were expecting Paislee in October 2012. I had been going to the doctor, and my blood pressure had been going up a bit. Over the weekend, I felt like she wasn’t moving as much as she should, so I went to the doctor on Monday,” said Jessica Cripps. “They did an ultrasound, and everything looked fine, but I came back on Thursday, and they told us she was gone. The unthinkable happened, our daughter, Paislee Cheyanne, arrived stillborn May 3, 2013. We were completely broken and shocked. We had no idea that anything was wrong so we were completely unprepared to deal with this situation.
“When we got home, we had a house full of groceries, food, everything we needed. We had all kinds of people doing things for us, helping us, and our church set up a special donation to pay the doctor bills, because I was out of work. The people in our little community were taking care of us.
“As time went on and things got easier, I went back to work. Tyler and I started talking about how we were fortunate to have so many people taking care of us. We thought there probably were other people going through the same experience we did but who didn’t have that support.
“A person changes after losing a child. The loss is such a pain that no one can describe it and is understood only by those who have suffered the same fate.
“Tyler had the idea of what if we had a 5K run and donated the funds to a family going through what we did. So he talked to his buddy at work, Wesley McCubbin, who had helped with nonprofits before. So we held a fundraiser the following January, a chili supper and corn hole tournament, and it has grown from there. We hold three events a year, the chili supper, a 5K run and the crafts fair.
“What we hear from some of those we have helped are the words, ‘Thank you. It’s so good to know there are other people out there who can relate to what we’ve gone through and that we’re not alone.’”
Darcie Cripps, Tyler Cripps’ mom, who coordinates the craft and home show, said, “It’s kind of exploded this year. We usually have 24 booths, and this year we have 35 booths. I think it’s a blessing.
“It will mostly be homemade, handmade and unique. We’ll have folks selling jewelry, reclaimed wood, swings, baked goods, home décor, clothing, repurposed wood for home décor, crocheted items, embroidery, purses, small furniture, dips and soup mixes, homemade soaps and lotions, painted furniture, window frames, and holiday crafts, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas items.”
Among the vendors will be Rachel’s Signs and Designs (vinyl decals, yard signs, design work), Little Pigs Stitching (embroidery), R.J. Scroll Saw Treasures, Knuckleberry Farms (preserves, chutney, specialty butters), T&L Honey (honey, jams and jelly), A Stitch in Time (crocheted items, boot cuffs, scarves, aprons, baby items), Pampered Chef, LuLaRoe and Origami Owl.
“Our local Girl Scout Troop 343 will provide lunch, and we will have a really fun atmosphere. You can find just about anything you are looking for home décor and accessorizing,” said Darcie Cripps.
“Through our heartbreak and grief, we still know that God is good,” Jessica Cripps said. “While we know for the rest of our lives a piece of our heart is in heaven watching over us, we also know that after every storm it is promised a rainbow of hope. In 2015, we were blessed with our rainbow baby, Josee Irene.”
Admission and parking to the show will be free. For more information, visit paisleesfoundation.org.