CHICAGO — Jennifer Jara is a proud mom of three, but her road to motherhood has been a difficult one. After suffering two miscarriages and a stillbirth, she started an organization to help other families in similar situations, offering not just moral but financial support. Jennifer Jara is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
“Two days after our one year wedding anniversary we went to our routine ultrasound and there was no heartbeat,” she said.
In the summer of 2014 Jara delivered a stillborn baby girl.
“Those first few months I didn’t know how I was going to wake up the next day or how I was going to get through the next week,” she said.
As you’d imagine, devastating news for her and husband Joaquin. They named the baby girl Jessica
“We’ll never forget our daughter,” Joaquin Jara said. “We’ll never forget those moments the shock the pain the disbelief.”
She says the events around her daughter’s stillbirth happened so fast she didn’t have time to think about how to handle the traumatic experience. Let alone the high bills that came with a stillbirth. She said the thousands of dollars they owed was like a punch in the gut.
As Jara got through the loss, eventually she and her husband started to grow their family once again. But it wasn’t easy. She experienced two miscarriages along the way. They now have three children — Olivia, Joaquin and Gianna.
After those unfortunate events she was determined to help other families with similar issues to cope financially.
“The bills is something you’re not thinking about while you’re in the hospital trying to decide if you are going to have a burial or a cremation,” Jara said.
So on the six- year anniversary of Jessica’s death, Jara launched love-jessica.org — a non-profit which she established to help pay the medical and funeral bills for families who have had a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
With a simple application process parents can have their medical bill paid directly to the hospital through Love Jessica. Danielle Mattull learned about Love Jessica through a Facebook group after she miscarried last year. She’s one of the first to receive help from the organization.
“You know there are a lot of sentimental things that people do for moms that are grieving but this was something practical and different,” Mattull said.
With an average of $450 dollars per family, Love Jessica has awarded more than $20,000 in financial assistance to 64 families across the country in just its first year. This work helps the Jara’s keep Jessica’s memory alive.
“And Jen through Jessica, Love Jessica has been able to help those families cope and have their voice heard,” Joaquin Jara said.
With online fundraisers, personal donations and sponsors, the organization is beginning to pick up speed.
“Ultimately my end goal is I want the bills to be eliminated, no family should even receive bills. I know that’s a lofty goal, but I’m up for the challenge,” Jara said.
Jara said the feedback from the mothers has been her biggest motivation to keep going.
“She’s awesome, she’s so storing in the way that she talks about her story. It’s really hard to do and she does it with grace,” Mattull said.
Jara has her three children keeping her busy as well as the non-profit these days. And while she’ll never forget her losses, she always holds on to hope.
“There is hope, there is hope that you will be happy again, the grief the pain it never goes away, losing a child is something you never get over, but it does get easier, it gets easier about going about the daily task,” Jara said.
For more information about Love Jessica visit their website.