By Dawn R., Youth Services Coordinator
Every day we field calls from community members asking, “How can I help?” or “What can I do?” While we have no shortage of answers to those questions, we also encourage potential donors and volunteers to think creatively about how their time and talents can support families that are healing from domestic or sexual violence.
Recently, local business owner Liz Alcorn-Allen asked herself these same questions. In response, she drew upon her professional talents and passion to give some of our graduating seniors an unforgettable gift. Liz is a photographer with a passion for helping others; something she shared with several young women who meet with our violence prevention advocates in the local high schools.
Liz offered to take senior photos for the young women, but it was not your average photo shoot. Liz gathered her friends and family – fellow photographers, hairstylists, and make-up artists – and set up several days of full-on photo shoots at her studio, local parks, and other unique locations. Each girl met individually with the assembled team, which then worked to design just the right look. The studio was filled with fun, excitement and nervousness about what the day would bring, as each session lasted several hours with wardrobe and location changes.
But Liz’s generosity did not end there; she created a hardcover memory book for each senior with many of the amazing photos that were taken, and also gave them each a CD with all of the photos so they could print their favorites to share with loved ones. I know several couldn’t wait to post them on their personal webpages.
I can’t say enough about all of the wonderful folks Liz brought together, they treated each girl with such caring and respect, giving them all the star treatment. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of how much these girls have been through in their lives and what a wonderful experience this was for them – to be the center of attention, to feel special, and to know someone cares – not something they experience often.
An anonymous donor also gave each senior a cash gift to use as they chose or needed. Though the girls knew they would be getting photos, they were in awe at all they received at the celebration party Liz threw for them. The gift was not just the photos, but the memories they will carry with them of the wonderfully personal experience. Due to confidentiality we cannot share the photos publicly, but I can tell you I carry them with me in my memories and they give me hope for the future.
One person truly can make a difference and Liz is proof of that; what an amazing and generous person. I can never thank her enough for the “gift” she gave our girls.
You can check out Liz’s work at www.lizallenphotography.com.