Giving Back | The Olivia Act

Every year, I look for ways I can give back to my community.  My heart desires giving to others and this year I was deeply moved when I saw a post one early morning on Facebook.  It was a photographer, who wished to remain anonymous.  She started a Facebook page called “The Olivia Act” it was named after one of the children lost in the Newtown, CT school shooting.  Olivia’s family had family pictures taken a short time before she was killed. Those pictures are precious and now priceless to them. Upon hearing this, this photographer was moved to give away a 30 minute family photo shoot and has challenged other photographers to do the same.

I decided what better way to find a deserving family than to ask my own Facebook followers.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the response and it made it so hard for me to choose!  But I feel so good about the family I will be photographing.  They were nominated, not once, but TWICE by different, unrelated people!  I asked Gena if I could share her story of courage, love and strength and here it is….(some excerpts are taken from the nomination emails I received)

Meet Brian & Gena…

Gena and her Husband Brian had the picture perfect life, They were Best friends!  They recently bought a new home last year and had a gorgeous Daughter Zoe!

Meet Zoe, She was the apple of Brian’s Eye 🙂  Brian was also an immensely talented amateur photographer.  One of the many ways he showed his love for his “girls” was by taking hundreds of photographs of them at home and around town.  This past summer they found out they were expecting another child.  Brian was so excited…he always wanted more children.  At their 20 week ultrasound they were both excited to find out that their baby was a healthy BOY!

Less than one week after finding out they were having a beautiful baby boy….On September 27th, 2012, Gena’s husband, Brian, passed away while he was out on a run in their neighborhood.

Brian was just 35 years old and in seemingly perfect health at the time.  Doctors did all they could to save his life but were not able to….

Gena had to say goodbye to her husband.  Four year old Zoe had to say goodbye to her daddy.

“on the day we lost Brian, we also lost the perfectly in-focus photos of Zoe and Gena raking leaves in the fall, splashing at the pool and everywhere in between. While Gena misses Brian a thousand ways each and every day, she especially mourns the loss of the amazing photographic archives he was assembling of Zoe’s childhood.”


I feel so blessed to be able to photograph this family and the new baby boy that will be arriving in early February.  I only hope that I can give Gena and her family a little joy during this very bittersweet time in their lives.

xoxo, Jessica

If you would like to contribute to Gena’s family There will be a benefit in Brian’s Honor Saturday, February 2nd at the Bulldog in Minneapolis