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A letter to Help-Portrait

 On December 12, 2009 photographers around the world donated their time and talents for an organization called Help-Portrait. 

"Help-portrait is a movement of photographers, who are using their time, equipment and experience to give back to those who are less fortunate during the holiday season."


Dear Help-Portrait,

When I first heard of your organization I signed up immediately.  I knew it would be something that would rewarding for all.  What I was not prepared for was the immense joy that would resonate for weeks after the event ended.

Let me preface my letter first, so that you understand.  There is a mom in my sons school that works at a local women's shelter, so when I signed up with your organization I knew exactly where to turn first to see if I could volunteer at the shelter.

After I spoke with the director I found out that I couldn't actually shoot the portraits on the 12th of December because she would need to be at the shelter to supervise, we agreed to shoot the portraits on the 15th.

On the eve of the 12th I read posts from other photographers and their experience on the day and it was inspiring to read.  I couldn't not wait for the 15th I thought to myself!

The morning of the 15th I drove to the shelter and met with my friend Joanne, another photographer, and rang the bell.  I had never been to a shelter before so I did not know what to expect.  It broke my heart to see that they lock the doors from the inside, but that is as far as the empathy went because the people I met inside the shelter were beyond amazing.

I was greeted with smiles from the adults and giggles from the children.   It was their energy that spoke the most to me.  The morning moved fast and before I knew it three hours had passed and all the portraits had been taken.  One woman even even hugged us for taking her and her childrens portraits.  My cup runneth over.

Driving off I tried to process it all. 

It would not be until today, almost ten days later I can articulate the emotions.  You see, I am blessed to have a loving family and home to come to night after night.  There are days I take it for granted, and even get frustrated because the rooms are not clean and the kids are not listening.

And then I met these women, women who have relocated their life. Turned it upside down and are starting over. I know each of these women have a story that brought them to the shelter.  I know they are probably fighting harder than they have ever fought before to keep their head high.  But you know what, each one of them smiled.  And their kids smiled.  Actually, their kids belly laughed.  They have hope. And love.

Ironically, this has been the toughest year of my life.  And hope and love is what pulled me through.  These women reminded me that hope & love is all you need in your life.  The silly stuff I stress about sometimes is a small speck in life.

Lastly I want to say that the women that volunteer in this shelter should carry banners and have standing ovations for all they do.  Every one that I spoke to was invested in what they do and you can clearly see it.  One woman who was minding the children in the daycare area especially.  The kids adored her.  You can't fake smiles with kids.  Kids don't lie.  They clearly loved her and we all know that kids need to feel love to know love.  I bet she makes their day a little brighter.

So thank you Help-Portrait for allowing me to be apart of your organization.  Thank you so much for putting something like this together.  I have always said a smile heals, and participating in this event proves it.

May you each have a wonderful holiday season! 

All my best,


PS.  The director already said I can go back next year!!! (Thank you Dawn for opening the door and to Ann for opening it)

PSS.  This should be the theme song for next year! (Wait till they see me smile by Alicia Keys... this song should be played LOUD) :)

Reader Comments (3)

Wow, sounds like an amazing experience. I'm sure YOU brightened their day as well. :)

Wed, December 23 | Unregistered CommenterKellee

That was beautiful/AWESOME Kim!! ~sniffle~ I know those women appreciated what you did more then you can ever imagine! xxx ooo

Wed, December 23 | Unregistered Commentercarleen

You gave MORE than just photos that day, more than you'll ever know that day.

Thu, December 24 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

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