.

Wishes come true.

Aim for the stars and hit the moon? Sometimes the things you aim for end up even better than you ever could have imagined. If I gave speeches, this is everything I'd say.

November 2nd, 2012. Dia De Los Muertos. Day of the dead. A day where our loved ones come back to visit- to linger around us with love. A day for us to celebrate them. 

I had some friends experience some pretty amazing miracles on this day. I did too.
 
Since 2008, I've nudged my mom with an idea. "I want to earn a volunteer of the year award." She'd smile. A gentle look on her face as if she were patting my hand in consolation.
I was serious. I wanted to earn it. For my resume. For me.
 
My work with Suicide Prevention Services happened back in the days of the Crisis Line. Circa 1996. I volunteered at the hotline. It was fulfilling. Life got busy and my dedication deviated.
 
In 2008 I volunteered to redesign the SPS website and started up social media marketing for SPS. My son was two years old and I was a single mom. It was volunteer work I could do from home.

The website was completely re-created. It was the largest website I ever made with 68 pages. A Facebook page was created for SPS (www.facebook.com/suicidepreventionservices). A Twitter account (www.twitter.com/spsfv). A Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/spsfvillinois). I maintain each and have a great time doing so. I would attend all the event to take photos. And then make videos from the photos I took. It felt good. I was spreading awareness and amping up SPS. These pieces did not earn me the volunteer of the year award.
 
I learned over the years that recruiting was actually a strong suit of mine. We have an amazing event called 50 Men Who Cook. We literally find 50 guys who can cook. Each guy gets a table to dish out his culinary creation. Guests buy tickets to come to the event and eat samples of each food creation.

It's great fun. I was able to rally a large percent of the cooks for the event. It felt great and I was so proud to have so many friends there with me. I thought this would surely help me earn volunteer of the year. No.

Over the years the Facebook page has grown. I post nearly every day on the Facebook page. Our Twitter is active and each SPS event gets it's own event video, posted to our Youtube.
 
This year, 2012, I really threw my heart into everything. I felt good. Alive. I was motivated. The ideas kept flowing.
 
I made a lot of videos. I kicked off the 1st of the year with a video with the theme: What are you grateful for? What makes you happy?
People from all over the country sent in their contributions. It was awesome. I felt so awake in life. Hopeful Video: http://animoto.com/play/64MDHpu0B1V1Ogu3gyQZLg
 
I made a video that I called The Power of One. SPS was in a spot (and still is) where we needed a funding boost. The video offered suggestions. We each have the power to do something to help.
Here is the Power of One Video: http://animoto.com/play/0j95mkI0jMO9DC12cxrpUw
 
The video boosted my own creativity. What could I do? I decided to rally with some friends and have a skylantern festival. I was prepared to have the idea shot down. It wasn't. It was lifted up and supported by the whole Yorkville community. I was beyond thrilled. The energy coursing through my veins was fantastic. I felt caffeinated without coffee. I could not wait to see how this would go.
 
The skylantern festival happened on October 6th. It was more than I ever could have imagined. It was the single most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
I felt a click with both the universe and so many people who had finally had an opportunity to experience SPS. I can not wait to do this again. Here is a video from the skylantern festival:
http://animoto.com/play/0HzSoDlos0UVLoUX0UiMtQ
 
On November 2nd, dia de los muertos, I got a text from my mom. "If you were getting an award from SPS, would you want to know? Call me." I called immediately. She was in tears and explained I had been unanimously selected to receive the Phoenix Award for the Survivor of the Year. I couldn't speak. "You're crying aren't you." Through tears, I murmurred a "mmmhmmm."

This was more than I ever expected. This is MORE than the volunteer of the year award. I am still taking it in and blown away. I had to get my thoughts on paper, hence this blog.  
 
I am honored. And humbled. And feeling that my Grandma has her hand in this gift. This is so much more than I ever could have imagined.
 
I lost my Grandma when I was 3. My grief was secondary, as I witnessed my mom's world unfold. I learned who my Grandma was through stories and pictures. In working with SPS, I feel I have a relationship with my Grandma. Additionally,  I love to work with my mom with SPS being that it is such a huge part of who she is. A way to honor the work I have watched all my life.
 
There was an older woman at Aldi last year who had forgotten her wallet. She was quite frazzled and on the verge of tears. I discreetly and quickly paid for her groceries. She cried. I left the store quickly and cried on the way home. I called my mom. A thought that ran through my head was what if my Grandma had had an experience like that before she died? What if there wasn't someone to step in and help? All these thoughts are helping me grow and understanding to better help others in the future.
 
A good friend of mine lost both her mom and brother within the past few years. Her grief is fresh and she was at a low point. Collectively, we made a pact to one another that suicide is not an option. That we would live to be 103 years old, should nature allow for it. The 103 Club.

I ask you each to consider joining the 103 Club. To make the vow that suicide is not an option for you. That you will do your best to live as long as nature will allow. To live to be 103 years old.
 
I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe the universe and angels send signs. I am forever grateful to receive this award and am deeply touched that they news came on dia de los muertos. Thanks Grandma. Thank you Mom, I love you.

And thank you to all the wonderful people associated with SPS who inspire me everyday. Thank you to EVERYONE who tries every day, without letting go of hope. Much Love.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nicole Alesia Reichman November 05, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Congrats Jen. You deserve this and much more for all that you do. You have to be the most selfless and giving person I know. You are an inspiration and it is a ln honor knowing you.
Jen Slepicka November 05, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Nicole, your words are gold. Thank you so much. Much love!
Michelle November 05, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Congratulations Jen, your story brought me to tears. I am so very very proud of you!! I'm joining the 103 club with you and are blessed to have been inspired by you always. Sisters forever, Michelle Xoxo
Jen Slepicka November 06, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I love you Michelle. I am so glad you are in our club. VIP for sure. XOXO! Thank you for supporting me and being my Sister.
Brandy Smith November 06, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Jen, you deserve so much out of this life for all you do, for all you do it for. You have the most unselfish hearts of anyone I have ever met. I am grateful to you for letting me be a part of 50 men and the sky lantern festival. You are the most beautiful person I know. I am so blessed to call you friend, my friend <3
Kari Frantzen November 06, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Congrats Jen!! You have been & continue to be such a wondeful asset to SPS & all who know you! So glad that you're being recognized!~Kari
Jen Slepicka November 06, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Thank you so much, Brandy! I love you.
Jen Slepicka November 06, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Thanks Kari! :) I am so grateful.
Tom Slepicka November 07, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Congrats Jen! You have had a positive impact on so many lives, mine included. I am thrilled to know that you are being recognized for your love of life, and your unselfish love of those around you, near and far.
JM November 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Congratulations, you seem like a nice enough person, however this article sure seems inappropriate to me. As a volunteer you should be humble, saying you are humble and writing an article (actually several) about how hard you work and how wonderful you are, seems opposite of humble. I'm sure your family and friends that also commented here will crucify this comment. I'm sorry about the people that commit suicide, or more importantly the people they selfishly and thoughtlessly left behind.
Jen Slepicka November 07, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Clearly we have miscommunicated and my message was not read as my heart was projecting if this is how you read this. I am very proud of my work. Yes. I'd accept the inappropriate remark if this was someone who was brave enough to reveal their name or join me for coffee to learn more about me before leaving negative energy on my page. Thanks for reading my article.
Jen Slepicka November 07, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Thank you so much, Tom. :)

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