P.S. I Love You Day turns pain into purpose

Inside look at celebrations in Islip and West Islip high schools


On April 23, 2010, Brooke DiPalma was dropped off at middle school by her father, Joseph DiPalma. Joey was heavily involved in the community, as he was the president of the West Islip Chamber of Commerce, chief of the local fire department, a retired NYPD officer, and like his daughters Brooke and Jaimie, Joey was also a West Islip High School graduate. He was regarded as a happy man, smiling and laughing wherever he went. On her way out of the car, her father said, “I love you” and she said, “I love you” back. Mere hours later, Joey DiPalma took his own life.

Co-founders and sisters Brooke and Jaimie DiPalma were able to take their tragedy, and with the help of their high school and family, create P.S. I Love You Day. Every second Friday of February, the special day is celebrated by donning your favorite purple attire and making sure that the people around you know that they are not alone. The day serves as a reminder to never miss an opportunity to spread love, reinforcing the importance of eradicating the stigma around mental health, standing up against bullying, and ultimately preventing suicide.

This Feb. 9, 14 years since it was founded, P.S. I Love You Day was celebrated by 300,000 people in 33 states throughout the U.S. and Canada. Jaimie celebrated the day with her students while teaching at Cayuga Elementary School in the Sachem School District, while Brooke visited schools and organizations that celebrated the occasion in their own ways.

The Islip Bulletin got to spend the special day with co-director and co-founder of the organization, Brooke DiPalma, as we got an inside look at the P.S. I Love You Day celebrations at Islip and West Islip high schools.

“To be able to see people take P.S. I Love You Day and make it their own, and really relate to it so personally, it means the world to my family and those who helped us create it,” shared Brooke DiPalma. “It is truly humbling, but it is also truly inspiring and what keeps us going.”

Islip High School put a unique spin on P.S. I Love You Day by celebrating the occasion all week long, ensuring that students had the opportunity to participate in all the activities offered, making sure to start conversations about the importance of togetherness and taking care of your mental health.

On Friday, Feb. 2, the first responders club, junior chamber of commerce club, and Islip High School teacher Renée DeCrescenzo Clock attached positive messages with magnets onto every locker after school. Students were greeted with the positive sentiments as they began their school week on Monday, as the start of a weeklong celebration.

Community and school groups, including the PTA, Sunrise Counseling, Youth Enrichment Services, and L.I. Against Domestic Violence, hosted fun, uplifting, and informative activities at booths set up in the hallway all week long.

“I am bursting with pride to see all the various groups come together to support such an incredibly important cause,” shared Islip High School principal, Dr. Lara Gonzalez. “We have students, we have teachers, we have district administration. We are here and are proud to be collaborating with P.S. I Love You.”

A $300 check was given to the P.S I Love You organization from the high school. The funds were raised through selling P.S. I Love You shirts, the sale of bracelets sold by Students Together Against Racism (STAR) Club, the sale of Bucs Brew coffee—made for teachers by students in Mrs. Horn’s Functional Academics class—and the sale of cupcakes and cookies from cooking classes.

The celebration continued at West Islip High School, as Brooke DiPalma arrived to give an annual assembly at the school where the nonprofit organization originated.

During the assembly, the co-director thanked the high school’s P.S. I Love You Club, which was responsible for arranging the display of 75 purple flags donning Higbie Lane and Udall Road, as well as selling almost 500 shirts to the West Islip community. Superintendent Dr. Romanelli shared that the funds raised from the shirts were donated to local organizations, including the Long Island Crisis Center.

During her presentation, Brooke shared the story of how she was able to turn her pain into something beautiful that helps others. Her presentation stays fresh and unique each year by integrating the year’s P.S I Love You Day theme. For 2024, the theme was “Love is meant to be given.” Brooke not only stressed the importance of reaching out for help if you are struggling, but also the necessity of loving yourself and showing yourself kindness before you can love anyone else.

As the day came to an end after the assembly, Brooke DiPalma and members of her team walked through a hallway lined with purple P.S I Love You T-shirts sold over the past 14 years. While reflecting on how far the nonprofit organization has come, Brooke and the organization’s supporters look forward to seeing how the day will continue to grow, educate, and inspire, one I Love You at a time.  


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