Jen Wilkerson’s Story

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I once heard that when you choose to help those in the hardest, darkest situations that you receive the most blessings. I had been considering becoming a volunteer for NILMDTS for a while and those words moved me to move forward. The fear that I wasn't brave enough or good enough just didn't matter anymore and I filled out my application with shaking hands.

My specialty is birth, babies and family and I know how much it means to clients when I return their images to them. NILMDTS is an opportunity to make a real and lasting impact by providing images that are so much more than pretty pictures. To parents who have lost a baby they are everything and being able to give them that gift makes this job so incredibly meaningful. I have received the greatest blessings and been truly changed- more than I could have imagined than when I began.

The story that has impacted me the most has been the Shirley Family. I was contacted to photograph the birth of their daughter Jocelyn, who had been diagnosed with skeletal dysplasia, with a strong possibility of it being lethal, hydrocephaly, and missing her frontal lobe. They wanted the little time they had with her documented so they could remember her in case she didn't survive. I arrived to the c-section prepared to do my job to the best of my ability and emotionally prepared myself the best I could for what was ahead.

I watched Ashley and Ronnie holding hands as the doctors began, just hoping to hear their baby girl cry- and amazingly, she did. Loudly and a lot. She was beautiful with a head full of dark hair and a body that looked to be in perfect proportion, definitely not what the doctors expected, and seeing the absolute shock on her parent faces turn to incredible love and happiness was one of the happiest moments of my life. I walked out of there convinced that the words that prompted me to become a volunteer are true.

“Go where you are needed, share your gifts- even if you think you aren't brave enough- and you will be rewarded in ways that are unimaginable.”

~ Jen Wilkerson, NILMDTS Volunteer Photographer