Photo Dec 07, 10 45 54 AM

Each December for the last five years, Las Vegas photographers, make-up artists, hair dressers and other generous local businesses head down to the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center to take portraits of the teens residing at the center. It’s the kids special day to forget about life’s hardships in their young lives and to get pampered. One week later the kids have prints and a disk with their images in hand. Thanks & God bless. -Lorenz Crespo, Photographer

There was a young homeless girl, around 15 years old didn’t think I could do anything with her hair….and when I got done with her she flipped and giggled a giggle I’ll never forget!! I added a donut in her hair to create that high bun she says she’s always wanted. She is so beautiful! What touched my heart the most….(and I’m crying again as I write this) is to see the homeless kids look at themselves in the mirror in complete awe. One cried and couldn’t believe it was her…another touched her face so delicately and said, “Wow. this is me.” Another teen said, “You can do anything you want to with me because anything will be better than what I am so far!” The highlight THIS year was when all of these precious sweet souls got up there and danced wiggled jiggled with our DJ and smiled like they had no troubles at all!! -Kimberlie Lombardo, Hair Stylist/Makeup Artist

I was so struck by something I heard one of the kids say on camera. To paraphrase: a young man talked about how blessed he felt to be at Shannon West … that it’s a place of safety as they figure out what it is within them that’s broken and then fix it so they can function out in the rest of the world. My heart broke momentarily with the thoughts of what these kids have survived to get to this point. But then my heart sang with this thought: They might recognize that there are broken places within themselves, but for me, I see the incredible light that sparkles through the cracks of those breaks. These kids are discovering their light again and Help-Portrait in essence provides images that reveal that light over and over again. My hope is that whenever they doubt how special they are, how priceless, how irreplaceable … that they look to these photos and remember the day when EVERYONE saw their light because there was just no hiding it. I pray for the day when their light never has to hide again. -Nancy Good, Photographer

While I was doing makeup on one young man, he was SO excited to get his picture taken. He said “my mom doesn’t have any pictures of me. I can’t wait to send her my picture.” He said, “Can you please make me look less tired for her?” Precious….. -Kathy Sue, Makeup Artist

I grew up here in Las Vegas and I have to start off saying… its not easy being a teen here. With so much overstimulation and drugs abuse on the rise…too got into made some poor choices in my life and school in adolescence. I knew I wanted to live a better life. So with the help of an inspiring supportive mentor, I made a positive choice for myself to succeed and never looked back! I went from falling off track to graduating as valedictorian of my senior class! Some of the kids asked me how I’ve gotten to where I’m at today. It made me think – with great humility – there’s a little piece of us within all of these youths. We all can relate to where they came from or where they want to be! The ability of using our gift and talent to make a once dim lit smile turn on and shine so bright amongst us inspires us! These kids literally were glowing and beaming with love and gratitude! This is truly what reminds me of how beautiful the gift of love and human kindness is! I can hardly wait until next year! -Francesca Lombardo, Makeup Artist

There was this young homeless youth boy who had nothing to do with our event but kept dancing around and joking with everyone. He was scared. All this high end photo equipment, new people with smiling faces setting up stations….AND you want me to put on makeup?! LOL! I kept nudging him, gently supporting him with encouragement…and an hour later…he stood in front of me wearing a new red sweater with a tie and dress pants…and was shaking. I hugged him, looked into his eyes and thanked him for letting us take his photo. You should have seen him! He was jumping into all the photo stations and telling others to join him. He stepped up and stepped into a life-changing experience. You can see the inner strength of this young man captured in his photos. I’m so blessed to be a part of all this! -Denise Marshall, Organizer, Help-Portrait Las Vegas