This post will have no images, as I am not allowed to show them. Please, please stick with me, because I really want to share the experience with you.
A Family for Every Child (AFFEC) is an organization that enlists the help of volunteer photographers to provide sessions with kids in foster care who are looking for their forever family. The pictures help perspective parents get a better idea of the child’s personality. After a year or so of being listed as a volunteer, I finally received a call to do not one, but three sessions last month.
I LOVED every second of my sessions. We made them really fun – went to the bowling alley, the arcade, the mall. The kids were nervous and shy at first, but were soon laughing, and by the end, they had just blossomed. It was amazing to see their confidence and their joy skyrocket.
It felt like, while we were getting some great pictures, the real story was the kids’ experiences. Most of us can’t fathom what many of these kids have been through. They were so, so happy just to be at the mall, or to play an arcade game. It was a big deal that the day was created just for them. Which made me realize that maybe we could take this a step further. Maybe we could make it just as much about the experience as it was about the photos. Maybe there is something bigger here, just under the surface.
For starters, I’d like to provide each child with an album of their images. I already have the albums for these three sent off to the printer, with the Max Ehrmann quote from Desiderata:
“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should…
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
(Thank you to my friend Cara for the idea of this quote!)
I am so excited for the kids to get these albums. They are small, so they can hopefully bring them with them wherever they’d like. My biggest hope is that they can see in their images even a small glimpse of the beauty and hope and possibilities that I could see after spending just a couple of hours with them. These are some truly remarkable kids. They deserve families. They deserve joy. They deserve possibilities.
Here are links to each of their heart galleries on AFFEC’s website (if the link doesn’t work, that’s tremendous news! It means they have been adopted!):
I have some big ideas here, and I’m looking into grants. If you have any ideas or connections that could help me, I would LOVE to hear from you.
In this week’s The Everyday Adventurer, I’ll be sharing ways that you can be a part of this project (hint: there’s something in it for you, too!). If you’d like to hear about it, sign up right here! Let’s show these kids how amazing they are!