[volunteer] has started a big dinner dance event
for special needs teenagers. Several of our guests have started their own rescue missions.”
A TURNING POINT
A woman who describes herself as a “homeless advocate” escorted a woman to Help-Portrait Bradenton several years ago and offered this update to Randall, which he recounts here:
“The guest had been on the street for nearly 30 years and had not seen her children for 20 years. After going through the event she saw her photo and broke down. All the makeup we had applied ran everywhere and she swore right there to turn her life around.
“It seems that, concurrently, our local law enforcement had seen enough of her. She had a court date a few weeks later. The prosecutor had made it perfectly clear to the advocate and public defender they were going to throw the book at her.
“When they arrived in court with ‘the new lady,’ the female prosecuting attorney asked to approach the bench. Shortly after they asked the public defender and then the advocate, telling me the story, to approach. When she got there the prosecutor asked, ‘What are you trying to pull?’ She was not sure what that question meant. It seems that the accused had cleaned up so well that the prosecutor thought it was not really her.
“The guest had been on the street for nearly 30 years and had not seen her children for 20 years. After going through the event she saw her photo and broke down. All the makeup we had applied ran everywhere and she swore right there to turn her life around.”
“After assuring the judge that it most certainly was and that she had completely turned her life around the judge asked what she, the advocate, attributed it to. She said, ‘I would not have brought it up your honor but since you asked, the love of Christ.’
“Long story short they gave her another period of probation. I was told this story two years after the fact. She has been completely sober for that time. She is working in a store and helping at a shelter. She made copies of the photos and reunited with her children and met grandchildren she didn’t know she had.
“Can Help Portrait make a difference? Uhhh, yeah!”
“Like most HP events, we provide a complete makeover, hair, nails and makeup before the photo. There is even a shower room if needed. They get a 15 minute photo session and another 15 at the computer to choose the photo and watch the Photoshop magic. All the while getting love from our photogs and volunteers. The makeovers are provided by the local salon college.”
“Twenty-five members of First Baptist Church of Bradenton provided love to our guests who came from our local domestic violence shelter and a women’s recovery shelter.”
“It can be scary to face something unknown. That said, the reward can be great for the volunteer. There is no feeling that can compare to seeing the light go on when your guest realizes that somebody really can love them. They, and you, will never forget it.”
Thanks, Randall and Help-Portrait Bradenton, for sharing your stories with us!