In recent months discussion surrounding school closures and the forthcoming school budget have captured the attention of many in West Islip and the emotional response by some in the community to these challenging issues has bordered on distasteful.
But through the fog of nasty comments and accusations, a ray of sunlight served to brighten our day this .
Brooke DiPalma, a sophomore at West Islip High School, was the driving force behind “” Day in which students and faculty throughout the school district were asked to wear purple to show support for the day and the cause of suicide prevention.
Her message is simple: “Telling someone P.S. I Love You can change their day from being horrible to amazing and can even save their life. Spread the love.”
For those who know Brooke’s story, the outpouring of support from West Islip and beyond this past week was remarkable and slightly bittersweet. The reason she created P.S. I Love You was the death of her father, Joe, who took his own life in 2010. Many in the community knew Joe as the Chamber of Commerce president and the go-to guy to solve many problems. But to Brooke, Joe was simply dad.
His passing shocked the community and obviously left a void in lives of Brooke and older sister, Jaimie. But Brooke has persevered with remarkable courage: a level of courage we all should have.
Not long after Joe’s passing, I had the pleasure of speaking with Brooke for a few minutes at a fashion show fundraiser sponsored by the high school’s DECA Club, with all proceeds going to the DiPalma family. Her poise was remarkable and she spoke softly, yet proudly about not only the event, but about her dad.
Now, two years later Brooke is proving to be the leader her father once was. She has inspired her classmates, students across the school district and numerous others near and far with her thoughts and actions.
But while P.S. I Love You Day was a great success the day should also serve to give us pause about how we treat one another. There will always be disagreement over issues, but why the need for vitriol?
If more of us kept Brooke’s mantra in mind, the world might be a better place. Perhaps better solutions to the challenges we face as a community and as a nation would be developed if we worked together like rational adults.
Thank you, Brooke, for reminding each of us what courage looks like and what love for our fellow person can accomplish.
P.S. I Love You!