1st, as a photographer: Six of my photographs were on display from November 3rd through the 12th at the Vision Gallery – an art gallery located at City Hall in downtown Chandler, Arizona. The majority of the photos displayed there (20 of them) were taken by my friend John Power. He passed away on the 4th of July this year. I was asked to continue a very special photography project he had been working on.
The project will make more sense if I first tell you about I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program). You can’t take a snap shot of all the service rendered through this program, but please imagine for a moment this scene: Every night of the week in Chandler, one of now 18 different churches offers a place to sleep to several of the city’s homeless people. In addition, volunteers from one of about 15 other organizations – churches, businesses, etc. – plus individuals and families not affiliated with a particular group, prepare a hot meal for them and deliver it to them at the church whose turn it is to host. But that’s still not all. After serving the meal, volunteers sit down and eat along with these homeless souls. Chatting and getting to know each other, they enjoy the meal together. To me, that is beautiful living art.
Now we finally get to the photos. To bring further realization of self worth to those experiencing a rather desperate situation, John (and then I) photographed them individually, creating black and white portraits of all who wanted to be photographed.
Channel 10 news interviewed me at the gallery and ran a story about it on November 6th. Here’s the link to an article by KTAR News about the exhibit. They used a portion of one of my photos to accompany the article. That’s why my name (Robin Finlinson) is under it.
The above photos are 5 of my 6 that were exhibited. The one I’m not showing here is of a gentleman who worked for I-HELP.
Below, you’ll see photos I took that were not displayed. Only one photo of each person was used for the exhibit. Since John Power had already photographed a few of the I-HELP clients that I later photographed, his photos were rightly shared with the public.
Several times, this fellow put his hands together as if in prayer as he told me of his gratitude for the Savior. I had to get a shot of him like that.
I told this fellow with the smoldering look that I think he should be a model!
Through the opportunity of photographing these people–each incredibly and beautifully unique–I came to really see them and to know them a little bit. That’s all it took to love them. If you have the opportunity to help your homeless–those in your area–I hope you will. The best way to do that is through donating specifically needed items or money or your time as a volunteer to an agency that works with the homeless and is helping with their immediate and long-term needs. You can find opportunities posted at justserve.org.
2nd, as a Community Service Specialist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: I work with people from various churches, non-profit charities, senior and youth centers and other organizations to get them set up on justserve.org, a website that helps them find more volunteers for the many good things they are doing. The website is a free gift from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the community. One of the organizations I posted a service project for is FANS Across America in Chandler. Here’s the link to the news story about volunteerism that was filmed there by Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism. It ran on PBS (Channel 8 in Arizona) on November 23rd. The story begins about 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the broadcast. https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2016/11/23/november-23-2016-newscast/
I had been asked to simply greet the news crew and make sure they had the information they needed about JustServe. Jesse, the very nice young reporter/cameraman, wanted to interview me too, since he is supposed to interview three people if possible.
Interestingly, the person who taught me most of what I know about public affairs and how to post projects for organizations on justserve.org was… John Power.
Have a beautiful day!