Each quarter Texas Alliance for Life Leadership Circle members gather to hear from an engaging pro-life leader, legislator, or elected official who is involved in some capacity within the pro-life movement. Such was the case on January 31, 2020, when those attending the first luncheon of the year had a chance to hear from fellow Leadership Circle member Chris Williston, cofounder, along with his wife, of the Mary Claire Project. Mary Claire was the name given to their fifth child, a baby girl whose life was tragically cut short at 16 weeks due to an umbilical cord accident which resulted in a miscarriage.

After their daughter’s passing, the Williston’s experienced first-hand the pain this kind of loss of a child brings. While they received much support from friends and loved ones, they also noticed many simply didn’t know what to say in a situation like theirs, so they said nothing. Chris referenced this discomfort death brings bystanders as he said, “There is nothing that makes us less comfortable than death. Death that often happens in private is death that is easily ignored.”

But families experiencing the painful loss of miscarriage need loving support, not silence. The experience of the loss, the recognition of the awkward silences, along with their experience navigating the medical community and burial needs for their baby lead the Williston’s to launch the Mary Claire project. This organization seeks to meet the physical needs related to burial by providing families access to free or low-cost funeral services, a free or low-cost place to bury their baby, and a simple casket at no cost to the family.

Chris said of his new roles supporting others in their journey of loss, “I am the guy that people call on the worst day of their lives. Meeting the physical needs of a family who is facing loss is one thing but standing in the gap of an often-dehumanizing medical process is something totally different. The simple act of acknowledging their [babies] life was lived, that a death has occurred, and that a family is hurting profoundly, is the greatest gift that we provide.”

For more information on the Mary Claire project visit: http://www.maryclaireproject.com/. To listen to Chris’ full message, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4nb_UqI7-M.

Attendees also got a chance to hear from Texas Alliance for Life Executive Director, Dr. Joe Pojman, who highlighted the pro-life voter guide, a key tool which provides a personalized list of pro-life candidates for voters based on their address in the upcoming primary and general elections. Additionally, he touched on the success of the highly attended 2020 Texas Rally for Life(add recap link), which took place earlier in the week, as well as provided an overview on the Tinslee Lewis case and Texas Humane Disposition laws. Texas Alliance for Life supported efforts to put in place rules and laws that require humane disposition – burial or cremation. It was through this effort a connection with the Williston’s was made.

Davida Stike, Texas Alliance for Life Board President recognized elected officials and candidates in attendance. We are grateful to all who donate and support our initiatives.

Lastly, Texas Alliance for Life Financial Director, Lance Peterson and Financial Chair, Curt Nelson, provided information on the upcoming Walk for Life, to be held in five locations around the Central Texas area on June 20, 2020. Visit texasallianceforlife.org/events/26th-annual-walk-for-life/ for more information and to sign up to participate as a walker or donor.

Our next Leadership Circle Luncheon will take place in April. We’d love to invite you to come join this special group of pro-life donors and leaders! Visit https://www.texasallianceforlife.org/leadership-circle/ for more information.