Jeri Wilson first moved to San Diego when she was 5 years old, then she moved back to Michigan to finish high school. However at the age of 18, Jeri decided to make a life changing decision and move back to San Diego. “I just felt like San Diego was home,” Jeri said. She first started working in the medical field and had her first daughter at the age of 22. Jeri was unsure of which path to take regarding her career, so she decided to take classes at Grossmont College. While obtaining her Associate’s Degree in general studies, Jeri had her second child; a perfectly healthy baby girl. Three months after her second daughter’s birth, Jeri suffered a parent’s greatest fear: a child’s death. The doctors said that her baby suffered from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Of course, Jeri’s heart broke apart and did not understand why it happened to her baby. While grieving for her baby’s loss, Jeri did not feel that she had a strong support system. She did research on SIDS and got involved in a SIDS support group. Being in the support group helped her to cope with the loss of her baby, and right before finishing up at Grossmont College, Jeri got pregnant with her third daughter. She remembers it being very hard but well worth it at the end.
Later, Jeri obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Social Work from San Diego State University. Jeri claims that her experience of losing her baby from SIDS has led her to want to help families who are suffering from a similar situation. She is now certified and facilitates her own support groups; she volunteers with the San Diego Guild for Infant Survival, and is a member of the Southern California Regional SIDS Council. All of Jeri’s work in helping other families was recognized in 2012 when she was received the Daniel E. Boatwright award for distinguished service in the fight against SIDS.
Besides being involved in the SIDS community, last year Jeri was a student mentor. Currently, she is working as a social worker at a dialysis clinic, and is also a Parent Coach for couples who are parenting teenagers. Besides all of that, Jeri is excited to announce that she just opened her own private practice this past March.
For all of her varied roles in social work, Jeri state that one of the most rewarding things is “Parenting my teenager, and working with parents of teenagers.” Also, being part of the SIDS family for 23 years has allowed her to build lifetime lasting friendships.
In the near future Jeri would love to do trainings about SIDS to Child Welfare Services (CWS). She believes this is something crucial because many social workers are not well informed on what SIDS is. “Being aware of what SIDS is can make a positive impact on how social workers work with the family and better serve them. Just 20 years ago police were not trained on SIDS and many parents were going to jail and being unjustly blamed for harming their children when they had nothing to do with it. Now police are trained and when they respond to a call they are now aware on the topic and know how to respond to those calls,” Jeri said. Just how it has helped police officers, Jeri is certain that CWS workers can greatly benefit from the trainings as well.
Jeri loves to keep herself busy by doing amazing work and helping others. She concluded by stating that her self-care is to work at a place that she loves so she will not be stressed. Also she loves the fact that her job gives her flexibility with her time because she likes having different things to do throughout her day.
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-Written by: Emerald Flores