Using our gifts and pink boas to serve

Written by Amber -

On Saturday, we had the opportunity to work with our dear friend, Laura Juranek. She is an Intervarsity staff worker at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) where she started a campus chapter a couple years ago. The college students, all being artists, wanted to find a way to give back & serve their community together using their gifts and talents. Kelly, a freshman in the chapter, is even giving a presentation in a couple of days about the importance and impact of people simply investing their time & energy back into their communities—and also what that could look like from the artist's perspective.

When Cassie, a sophomore in the chapter, learned about Help Portrait last year, she was inspired to get involved. Help Portrait is a global movement of photographers, started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, coming together to use their photography skills to give back to their local community. The photos taken are not for their portfolios or for money, but are to be GIVEN to the families—some of whom may not have a portrait together. The stories that come out of these events are incredibly powerful. (This concept is near and dear to my heart, too—I have loved hearing about the event and have really been wanting to be a part of one.)

Cassie's current internship is at The Neighborhood House of Milwaukee, working with inner-city children and families. They're on the front lines in the fight against inner-city poverty in Milwaukee, building stronger families and neighborhoods. They host several community events and activities at The Neighborhood House throughout the year, one of which was on Saturday—an Earth Day celebration. It was the perfect opportunity for Cassie, Kelly and the rest of their MIAD group to piggyback, extending the Earth Day activity to include a fun, family photo booth option. Chad and I were honored to be a part of it!

It was beautiful. Every part of it. The set-up, the photos, the interaction, and especially the natural moments that unfolded.

We helped the students set up some gear for the makeshift photo booth area that was complete with a mound of funny props (several of which were handmade by the students). After photos were taken, memory cards were passed to the editing station of students who fixed them up and uploaded them to a local store, and another set of students ran over (yes, they literally ran) to pick them up from the store and bring them back for the families to enjoy. 

From cute little babies, to eager college students, to sweet single moms, to proud grandparents, laughter was had by all! It was really neat to witness so many timeless life moments—and to know that many of them were captured for print. Even though there weren't very many stories shared, you could just SEE the tight bonds of family members. Their love for each other and willingness to have fun together surpassed any struggles or rough seasons they may have been going through. A smile heals many emotions. Lots of them together can change a community. Paper masks & pink boas sure help, too.