I've read quotes by both Joe McNally and Steve McCurry where they talk about the camera being their passport. While their passport has taken them all over the globe, I got a small taste of my camera granting me access to a place I may never have gone otherwise.
Brenda, who I used to work with at Roto-Rooter called me and inquired whether I would be interested in shooting some group and environmental photos for the Lavatus Powell Program at Purcell Marian High School. She needed me during the day which would normally be a problem, but the day that she was inquiring about was my youngest son's birthday. I could take the day off from databases, shoot the photos she was asking about, and then take my son out to lunch after he got out of school!
At the time of the phone call, I didn't have a full understanding of what the program was. My interest was aroused though because Brenda works with non-profits and she mentioned that it was an educational assistance program. I like stories about what's right in the world, and this seemed like it just might be one of those stories.
Some years ago Sister Janet Linz noticed a problem where kids were making it to 8th or 9th grade and then leaving school. The reasons were many, and included things like lack of support at home, financial struggles, emotional struggles.....well, you get the idea, these kids were struggling.
Faith without works is dead said James, and Sister Janet took her very much alive faith and began a program through Purcell Marian High School that would come alongside kids that were struggling and help guide them through their education. The Lavatus Powell Program was born.
The kids who find their way into this program not only have Sister Janet's help, but the help of a group of volunteer mentors/tutors who pour into them. These mentors act like personal guidance counselors and help the students prepare for entrance exams, navigate financial aid, and tutor them in areas where they struggle in school. The program has even sought out medical help for the students when health issues and seeing a doctor are struggles.
Purcell Marian is a Catholic High School, and as such has a tuition fee for attendance. This is another area where the program steps into the gap for these students. Groups of donors who believe in the work of the program have either paid for tuition or brought it within reach. The apples in the picture above are not there just because they look good, but because things like apples, and bottled water, and healthy snacks are also donated to the program so that while the kids are nourishing their minds they can nourish their bodies as well.
The signature at the bottom of my photography business email reads, "Photography is like Grace, it takes the broken and makes it beautiful". Sister Janet applied Grace and kids that may have struggled to make it out of high school are now going on to college and excelling.