There are so many ways you have to give back, both with and without a camera in your hands. I saw these images from Giovanna Mandel and asked her to do a guest post and I'm grateful she was willing.
So often, new photographers especially, seem to get stumped on ways to get involved in their community. Well, here's a little program Giovanna has been doing with Indy's own Riley Hospital. Giovanna's helping to make the world a better place, one little corner at a time. Now, imagine what we could do as an industry if EVERY photographer got involved in programs like this!
When I was eight or nine years old the act of charity overwhelmed my home. My mother was always “doing” for other families and I have a distinct memory of her wiping the forehead of a young girl who she had just accompanied to chemotherapy, and now was waiting on her parents. On the days that her parents couldn’t take off work and drive into NYC for the treatments, my mother did. A neighbor in need, you help. Cancer would rear its ugly head one too many times, taking my father from us when I was 19.
Years later I would chat with a friend about a new venture through Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The Cancer Center at Riley Hospital would host its very first Riley Cancer Prom. I offered my photographic services and was greeted with open arms by all involved. Besides the event itself, the patients and families are treated to an outing at Promingdales where they choose clothing and all the necessary bling to look fabulous on the night of Prom. The day of Prom volunteer hairstylists and makeup artists converge on the hospital to provide a Day Spa for all the ladies attending. The EVENT itself is decorated to the extreme with a chosen theme for the year.
On Friday I photographed the fourth annual Riley Cancer Prom and it is my favorite day of the year. Fathers dance with their daughters, mothers hug their boys extra close, children dance their feet off, as only children can.
Even though many of the children sport hairless heads, the smiles they display and the laughter that resounds in the building allows them a brief moment of normalcy. I feel blessed to be a part of this event and to provide families with images that show joy during a time in their lives that is painful.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the epitome of charitable giving, St. Catherine of Siena:
"Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”
I am fortunate beyond measure to be a part of this day and it fills me up with love of humanity and compassion for those who suffer. Yet more than anything, my time at the Riley Hospital Prom fills me with joy and hope for the future.
All images copyright Giovanna Mandel. All Rights Reserved