Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lend a Hand, and a Camera...

"Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare think." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

It's that time again. Yep, cold and flu season. I've spent my most recent days laying around in agony, croaking like a pitiful version of Louis Armstrong.

(And roll 'em. Fade in Louis', "What A Wonderful World".)

And, it's also coming up on Help Portrait time once again. This year's date is Saturday, December 4th. If you haven't heard, Help Portrait is a volunteer movement of photographers who donate their time and talent to give portraits to people in their communities who otherwise would not be able to afford such a personal gift. You can click on the banner above to read all about it on the HP website.

And I can also tell you that it does not matter what you skill level is. If you can create a decent portrait, that's more than enough. The photographs are just a device for creating something far more subtle. What this event is really about is YOU making the time to CONNECT with a group of funny, loving, interesting people that you've never met, people who live right there in your own community.

You can join a group of volunteers already working in your area, or you can start your own group. Last year here in the Flathead Valley, three of us spent the morning making portraits at a halfway house/shelter, and the afternoon at the local Veterans' Home. A nurse helping us at the VA made an observation that had eluded me -- the portraits from that day would be the last "real" photographs of some of these elderly men and women.

I recently heard a lecture on public radio that described how, after your basic needs are met, happiness is not correlated to wealth. But one of the major indicators of happiness is your level of connections with other people. Well, here's a chance to make a difference in the lives of others, as well as your own.

It will only cost you a few hours, but it will stay with you for the rest of your life. That's a pretty good deal.

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