Jennifer Pickett is honoring her late husband the best way she can — by serving the community.
The outpouring of help was so great after her husband’s death two years ago that she learned how even small gestures add up to ease burdens.
Jennifer and friends launched the non-profit Jacob Pickett Response Organization in January.
“Our mission is to help with the financial tolls brought on by life’s traumatic events for other law enforcement families,” Jen, as she prefers to be called, said this week.
Her husband, Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett, died in the line of duty in March 2018 in Lebanon.
The community rallied to support Jen and their two children. People and companies donated to a memorial fund. A lawn care service volunteered its services for a year after Jake’s passing, but that’s just a small example of the outpouring of community care she received.
“After losing Jake, I had a lot of resources available to me because he was killed in the line of duty,” she said. “While it was still very hard, and still is very hard losing Jake, the little things added up to easing the burden a little bit. There was a huge outpouring, and I’m grateful.
“I had a feeling that I somehow wanted to use my tragic experience for something more positive, and I really didn’t know what that would look like, or if I would even find it.”
Then her friend, Amanda Farinella, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in October, and the idea for the non-profit Jacob Pickett Response Organization was born.
Amanda’s husband, Joe Farinella, and Jake were sworn in together as Tipton County Sheriff’s Deputies in 2013 before Jake joined the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, and Joe and Jake worked together. Both were K9 officers.
“First, I was devastated for her family,” Jen said, adding, “Jake always responded and helped others. My mantra has been #respondlikejake.” It’s also the organization’s mantra.
“Jake would have dropped everything to support them any way he could, and he should be here to do that, but he’s not,” she said. “We want to continue that legacy of responding to others and what they need.
“This is a great way for my two little boys to learn about who he was … And really, it’s who Jake and I were together. We were involved in a lot of community service together.”
Their sons are now 5 and 6 years old.
The Jacob Pickett Response Organization, which Jen hopes will involve the entire community, will support law enforcement families facing a variety of traumatic circumstances, such as an illness, death, fire, or anything in between.
Because needs will vary by situation, the organization will act as a central hub for those who want to provide aid.
“We want to be able to raise funds and facilitate other support, whether it be from community members or companies,” she said.
Those who want to be involved can visit the website remembering626.org to learn about the Farinella family and to help. Amanda Farinella is undergoing chemotherapy to prevent further spread of her cancer.
The Farinellas have asked for specific aid, including gymnastics and basketball camps for their two elementary-school aged daughters. But those who want to help them may volunteer any number services or donate money at the website.
Proceeds from the second Deputy Jacob Pickett Remembrance Day on March 7 will benefit the Farinellas.
Events will be similar to last year’s remembrance day, but “last year’s was more about honoring Jake and bringing some closure and just bringing the community together,” Jen said, adding, “This one will again be honoring Jake, but also we will unveil the organization and support the Farinella family and take the darkness of that senseless tragedy and turn it into something good.
“I want people to come to the event. I want them to check us out online and on Facebook. What I really want people to know, from my personal experience, is that every little bit of help – no matter how small – means a lot. The organization is to facilitate and to pull us all together to make a difference, whether that’s simply sharing posts of Facebook, ordering a T-shirt … every little bit helps.”
The Jacob Pickett Response Organization is comprised of all volunteers, including Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen and a committee of about 10 people who are helping plan Remembrance Day.
To learn more about the organization, to donate a silent auction item, or to donate to the Farinellas, visit the website at remembering626.org/sponsor. Jake’s police call number was 626.
Mail may be sent to The Jacob Pickett Response Organization, P.O. Box 460, Zionsville, IN 46007.
Deputy Jacob Pickett Remembrance Day is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 7 at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds, 1300 C.R. 100 S., Lebanon.
There will be a children’s area with bounce houses, coloring pages, face painting, a photo booth and a DJ.
Other activities include letter writing to a deputy and/or to the Farinella family, a corn hole tournament, a blood drive, police bloodhounds and scent kits, and more.
Hot dog meals will be available for purchase.
Here is the schedule for the day of family friendly events:
11 a.m. – Opening ceremony and the silent auction opens
Noon – K9 demonstration by the Boone and Tipton county sheriff’s departments
12:15 p.m. – Corn hole check in. Teams must be preregistered online at remembering626.org
12:30 p.m. – Corn hole tournament begins
1 p.m. – Special Response Team, Boone County Sheriff’s Office
2 p.m. – K9 demonstration by the Boone and Tipton county sheriff’s departments; silent auction closes
2:15 p.m. – Silent auction winners announced after K9 demonstration
3 p.m. – End of the event
Donations will be accepted throughout the day for the Farinella family.
For more information, visit: remembering626.org.