Out of tragedy rises compassion. On April 24, 2015, Eli Collins was born. He was 23 weeks old. While in his mother’s womb, Eli suffered from a twisted umbilical cord that starved him from the sufficient oxygen he needed. During the weeks then months of Eli’s time in the hospital, his mother Selena Tisdale worked, traveled to and from the hospital, and cared for her son. Five months later, Eli would succumb to his health issues.
She would fall into a deep depression and grieve over the loss of her son until one fateful day in March 2016. “On this particular day, I decided to do my own errands,” said Tisdale whose mother would take care of her needs. “That was one of the best things I could have done.” When she returned home that day she sat at her computer and asked the Lord what she could do. “I don’t know what it is, I don’t understand. I was saying to myself what can I do.”
Tisdale knew she wanted to help angel and miracle preemie families so she began to jot down what she thought the parents would benefit from. She then visited the Secretary of State website to create a foundation. She typed the name Eli Collins Foundation for Premature Babies. “Before I clicked the button I said to myself, are you sure, are you ready?” Then she hit the button. “I said oh my God, I just submitted it. When I got the confirmation that means I now have to come up with what exactly I want to do.”
She established the 501 (c) 3 charitable non-profit in South and North Carolina. She provides care packages that include blankets, journals, pens, bottled water and other necessities such as gas and food cards. “I wanted to give them everything they would need while they’re there (in the hospital),” said Tisdale. She also provides discharge packages and more recently burial assistance, something no parent should have to endure. “That part, believe it or not is not as hard as I thought it was going to be,” said Tisdale. “I can feel their emotions because I know how they are feeling and what they are going through. I don’t need to be tearing up because that’s the last thing they need to see.” When she leaves the family she always says a prayer for them and asks for continued strength. “Because Lord, I can’t do it without Him.”
Tisdale obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Limestone College and later earn a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Webster University. She works full-time with the Waccamaw EOC and part-time with the Williamsburg County Disability and Special Needs Board. Her full schedule didn’t stop her from reaching her next goal.
On May 3, Senator Ronnie Sabb, Kingstree Mayor Darren Tisdale and the Williamsburg HomeTown Chamber and others joined Tisdale to celebrate the grand opening of her office. Since June 2016, she’s been renting the building at 137 East Mill Street in Kingstree but didn’t use it until she was ready. “When I started this, my house was no longer my house,” said Tisdale who is also raising two daughters, Brionna, 22 and Aubriell, 19. “The boxes, the in-kind donations... it comes and it comes.” For more information about the foundation visit http://www.elibabies.org/ or call Tisdale at (843) 494-5683 or (843) 356-5180.