Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leaving Heroes for Children

Tomorrow is the day.  June 17th is almost here.  My last day as the Executive Director is tomorrow.  I've packed up my office, changed my voicemail, and had my party (pictures coming).  I'm verklempt.  I cried as I removed the framed Dallas Morning News article about Allie's dying off my wall.  Larissa sadly had to leave town yesterday when her grandmother died, so we had to tearfully say our goodbye yesterday.  Of course, we're seeing each other next week, and we have a Board of Director's meeting the following week.  As her husband Kenny said, "for God's sake, she's not moving to Pennsylvania!  You'll see her all the time!"

Below is the email I just sent out.  Tomorrow will be an emotional day.  Larissa was going to take me to visit Allie and my father's grave tomorrow (you know how hard that is for me), but with her being gone, sweet Tracey has offered to take me.  I need to go.  I need to see my Allie and thank her for these past seven years.  I need to thank her for the blessing she has given me.  I don't know if I can do it alone.

I truly appreciate all your comments of support and love lately.  Please know I read EVERYTHING.  I'm holding up.  I'm doing ok.  I'm emotional but I laugh, smile, play with my girls, take deep breaths too.  I'm making some new friends, meeting our neighbors while we play in the yard with the girls, and finding new experiences (Maggie and I gardened the other day!  I've never gardened before!  I'm taking myself to a movie tonight.  Alone.  For the first time in my life).

I'm moving forward as best as I can.

Dear Board, Advisory Board, Staff, and Leadership,

I can’t believe the time is really here.  It seems like I was just announcing my news that I would be stepping down as the Executive Director in six months.  Now, my last day as an employee for Heroes for Children is tomorrow. 

It’s been an amazing journey with Heroes for Children.  From sitting around Larissa’s kitchen table and Randal Locke initiating a vote for me to join Taylor’s Angels to where we are today, I’ve enjoyed it all.  I’ve been challenged, encouraged, and supported throughout the years.  Each day, Taylor and Allie’s memories have been here with me. 

I want to sincerely thank you ALL for your involvement with Heroes for Children and your faith in our mission to serve the families.  I appreciate your support in this new journey in my life as well.  I have accepted a position as a French teacher for 7th and 8th grade.  I’m replacing my mentor teacher from when I taught in the district seven years ago.  I’m thrilled and very excited.  I get the best of both worlds—continued involvement with HFC as a volunteer and board member AND the career I once loved so much! 

You are all wonderful.  A few quick specific thank yous—

HFC Staff—WOW!!  You could not find a more dedicated group of women!  Thank you for the hours of work you have done, the laughter you provide, and the friendship I will take with me for years to come. 

To our original HFC board members Randal, Cheri, Allan, Cameron and Larissa—Can you believe where we are today?!?!  Gosh, I remember us thinking we were big time when we opened this office in 2005 or pulled off the luncheon at Cameron’s with success!  We would not be here today without you and the groundwork you laid down for this organization. 

To Allan and Christie—I said it at my happy hour but I’ll say it again, there are no better travel companions than the two of you.  Thank you for what you do for HFC, but most importantly, thank you for your friendship.

And finally, to Larissa—I don’t even know where to begin.  You are my coworker, my friend, MY SISTER.  Taylor has changed my life forever and I thank you more than I can ever fully express for the gift of sharing her life and legacy with me and Allie.  I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished and will continue to do because of our little girls.  Thank you for everything.  I’m always here and always your sister and friend.  Love you so much, Lar!

Of course, as we all know, this is NOT a goodbye.  You’ll see me very soon! 

Love you all,


Grady Family said...

I haven't commented on the site in a long time...I guess I just read and absorb and then wait patiently to see how you are doing via another post. Today as I read your post, I have big tears rolling down my face. Your strength through everything, as many others have said, is absolutely incredible. The losses you have felt, grieved, lived through are enormous...yet, you aren't curled up in a ball letting life go by. You are tackling each day, the best that you can, and setting such an awesome example for your girls. They will look at this time in their lives one day and think about what an amazing mom they were blessed with. Hang in there, take those deep breaths, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

HollyH said...

Jenny, I was so disappointed to miss your happy hour while I was on vacation!
I hope you know what a hero you have been to all of us readers, and I know HFC has made a huge impact in my life.
I'm thinking of you through ALL of the changes going on right now in your life. I wish you all the best, sugar!

Minivan Mom said...

Love you, so damn proud of you, and HONORED to be with you tomorrow morning. Love you to bits.

Jacki said...

Movies alone...awesome. I braved this the first time after much pushing from my sister in law and I found a new movie star crush in the process. All kinds of good.

Gardening...I woke this morning wondering how the new plants were doing and if the sprinkler system was doing it's job. The two of you will love this. already know how I feel about this one. (grocery list? text messages?)

You've got this.

Robin said...

You'll do day at a time.

Sharon Lawson said...

Jen, did you miss anyone when you named off original board members? Don't worry, you're forgiven. Love, Mom

SCMommaof2 said...

Hi Jenny- since now I know you read everything- I guess I can finally comment and know it gets to you.

I have followed your story from way back to Babycenter, when the news traveled of your beautiful Allie's diagnosis. I have followed ever since (scmommaof2 on twitter). Your words, your fights, your successes, your tears, your laughter- everything- shows me what a strong woman you truly are. You have had more than a lifetimes share of grief in the last 7yrs, than one person should be allowed in a lifetime. You have handled it with such strength and determination.

Please know that you give women out there, like me, the know that we can do what we want, we can handle life. Your unspoken friends will continue to be right there with you, in the next phase of your life.

You know we're here and will always be. Thank you for letting us into your life and letting us be apart of it.

Much love,
Erica from SC :)

Racheal said...

Wishing you nothing but the best as you begin your next journey. Your girls are for each day. I've followed your blog for so long, I feel like I know you. Thank you for letting us to continue to read your blog. If I'm ever in TX, I want to me you, minivan mom, and growing up mo mom :)

tricia said...

If this re-posts,I'm sorry.Having issues leaving a message. Just wanted to let you know you are a class act!

Jamie said...

Wow Jenny - so, so proud of you. I've been wanting to comment for awhile now - since reading about you and Andrew going your separate ways - but everyone else seemed to say things so much better than I ever could :oS

I'm glad you read everyones responses - cause there are a lot of us out here that are behind you for support (even us faceless ones that you've never met).

As you move into this next chapter of your life, just know that out here in cyberspace - we're all cheering you and your girls on. You're going to do fine ... in fact, you'll do better than that - you'll do GREAT. :o) Hang in there girl - you're one of the strongest women I've ever "known".

Take care!

Laura said...

I have been a faithful follower of yours since Allie was sick. I would hold my son, who was born July 20, 2004, and cry over your posts because I couldn't get over how unfair this was for you, and I couldn't imagine your pain.

I now have a daughter who will be 2 this summer, and her name is Allison. I fell in love with the name after watching a newscast you did when Allie was sick, and you referred to her as Allison, and I remember thinking "that name is SO beautiful!"

I think of you and Allie at least daily. I wish nothing but the very best for you. I know you will be okay.

Sending love, thoughts, and prayers.

Mandy said...

GREAT job, Jenny...all the way around. You have so many gifts and are using them in such beautiful ways. I'm thoroughly impressed (and intimidated)...

Bonne chance!!!

Beckest of the BECKS said...

You are my #1 Hero, You have done SO much to change the lives of SO many. I am so proud of you! You are taking on a whole new adventure in your life, and all of your followers are sitting back cheering you on! I remember "talking" to you on a live chat YEARS ago and it felt like I was talking to a celebrity :) SO I wanted to personally say, GOOD LUCK and THANK YOU for everything that you have done for each and everyone of us :) You really connected to us all!

Beck Marko

Auntie Mip said...

You should feel proud and accomplished. But not for what I imagine you are thinking. Of course your work at Heroes is amazing and something of which you can be very proud. What I am referring to though is the lessons you are role modeling for Maggie and Katie. How to work for a goal bigger than themselves. How much satisfaction comes from hard work and giving back. How to follow your passion, even if that means less money, taking a pay cut, what have you. How to pick yourself up when the unimaginable happens. How to love despite a broken heart. You should feel proud and accomplished Jenny because showing yur beautiful girls what. Jt means to be a genuine, beautiful woman. Give your self just a little time to revel in that glory!

One crazed mommy said...

I read this and am at a loss for words - for your strength, encouragement and your ability to be truly honest in such a graceful way. I am thinking of you today as you visit the gravesite - I lost a brother when I was a teenager, and I still find it hard to go. Saying a prayer - I know that's not easy. I'm so glad you have such an awesome friend going with you! And I am also wishing you the absolute best as you go forth from HFC today - I know it's not goodbye for you, but it's a new journey and you are in my thoughts. Hugs from SC

♥Kelly♥ said...

You know the way to start out a message to you is "you don't know me but I've been a follower of your blog for several years." Well I'm one of those people. :) Feel like I know you, rejoice with you through happy times and am so sad and pray for you through the rough times.

Praying for you during this transition, my heard breaking for you again because my husband and I just had the roughest battle I never thought we'd make it through.
Good luck, best wishes, hang tough! You got this girlie :)

snekcip said...

Praying, uplifting and rejoicing as you journey/transition into this new phase of your life.

HFC has truly blossomed under great guidance and leadership. Wishing you the best as well as HFC continued success.

Tammy said...

ok, the lump in my throat is killing me! Wow! I'm so proud of you! And I know one Angel that is too! I always knew you'd return to teaching, you loved it too much! I'm thinking about you girl. Hugs from Fort Worth!

tricia said...

wondering how you are today. thinking about you

Nicola Benning said...

I check in on you and your family every now and again (I 'met' you through some baby site that I can't even remember when you had Allie - my son was born Dec 2003) and I rarely post - but just wanted to send you love, luck and peace over the coming months. I wish you nothing but the very best for you and your girls. Take care.