Kevin BHookun & Valerie Miles, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada:

This year, I had the opportunity of leading and organizing Help-Portrait Ottawa. With the help of a few wonderful volunteers and sponsors, we were able to put together an awesome event that certainly made a difference in the lives of the 80+ families on Sunday December 9, 2012.

The event took place at Ottawa City Hall in the great open area of the Jean Pigott Hall. The giant windows made for wonderful lighting and gave us the opportunity to give portraits to less fortunate families and individuals, and also to whom ever wanted a portrait of themselves. There were no restrictions, no preferences, It was all about giving and that is just what we did.

I was touched by stories told after families received their photo print in their hands. These are stories that I will never forget, and that will keep reminding me not to take for granted all that I have.

One story in particular really confirmed that we were in fact doing a great thing.

When I asked her if she preferred a Christmas setting or a plain studio background, Avis told me that Christmas made her too sad – “I hate Christmas,” She said. “It makes me sad.” She also told me that the last time she had seen herself, she was completely bald, and that the only remaining family member was her 87-year-old mother, “This portrait is for my mother, she hasn’t seen me in a long time.” Then she told me that she had forgotten how to smile.

After I showed her her portrait, her whole attitude had changed. She thanked me for making her day and wished everyone a Merry Christmas. I’d never seen a photo make a change before, not this fast! It is for that very reason that I am going to continue taking on initiatives like Help-Portrait. For the simple reason that it brings back the smiles in everyone’s life, no matter how difficult it can be.

“I had forgotten how to smile… Thank you for making my day.” -Avis

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