Embracing The Big Picture

How does someone express love? With a hug? A kiss? A kind or encouraging word? There are many ways that one can answer that question, but the one thing that is certain is, no matter the way one may express how they love; the most important thing to know overall is that they love. Love is meant to be shared. Given with one’s whole heart. And in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the recent storm that wrecked havoc on the Northeast (and continues to have rippling effects), love’s greatest expression was needed in some of our most devastated neighborhoods in ample supply. And with that, a little over a week ago, local photographers, make-up artists, volunteers and even Santa and his elves gathered at the Goldie Maple Academy in Far Rockaway, New York.

Lights, camera, community! With over sixty volunteers and almost two hundred families in attendance, this school gymnasium located in one of the more effected areas of the city, became the site where joy, compassion, goodwill and healing found it’s place. A great example was when after making portraits of a small family of four, the mom pulled me aside, hugged me and said, with tears in her eyes, “This is amazing! You have no idea what you’ve done for us…” Now, I have to admit…I had to do everything in my power, y’all not to burst out into tears on the spot! LOL!

I want to say thank you to all who found it in their hearts to give, including El Puente and the local chapter of the Police Athletic League. But I want to send a special thanks to Will Salomon Orellana and Kendra Alexis for their incredible work in putting this local effort together! And of course, Jeremy Cowart for his innovation in giving. I was blessed with the most amazing hugs, smiles and kind encouraging words and this experience has done more for me than I could ever express — thank you! And I just wanted to let you all know what a tremendous honor it was to participate in this year’s Help-Portrait campaign for Hurricane Sandy Relief. Even a week or so later, I find that I am still brought to tears at what an amazing testament of giving this was, and to know that God has used us all a vessel to serve!!

Don’t ever forget that you’re a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do to lift the human spirit. Things that are easy, things that are free, things that you can do every day. Civility, respect, kindness and character. Happy Holidays, everyone! Continue to be a blessing to people in your life and embrace the big picture! 🙂

20121223-184639.jpg Photographers Daniel and Joe doing their thing!

20121223-184658.jpg I’d like to thank Christina Whiting for making these two images. Photographer at work! LOL!

20121223-184746.jpg Help-Portrait CEO and Founder, Jeremy Cowart and the jolly old man from up North — Santa! 🙂

Help Portrait 2012 Group Shot The amazing group that I was so happy to have gotten to know and work with! Photo by Michael Dote

Feel free to have a look at how wonderful and life affirming something so simple can be:

Helping Hands

“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm..” And with that, not only are my hands busy today, but my heart is full! It’s almost bursting at the seams with gratitude in being able to give to those who are less fortunate. I did A LOT of volunteering during my college days and I’ve missed the camaraderie that can easily come from the smile of a stranger! So, in the spirit of giving, here I am at a local homeless shelter surrounded by comrades in gratitude! Happy Saturday, good people! 🙂

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