I'm an active member of a local church located in Southwest Ranches, Florida. The Men's Club of my church sponsors many worthwhile activities and local groups, one of which being Schott Communities, "for Persons Who Are Deaf or Disabled." The Men's Club was asked to support the annual Schott Communities "Let's Have a Party" event by helping setup, tend bar, and cleanup the event. I volunteered to work the party and had no intentions of shooting pictures, except for a few images to document the Men's Club activities. I had no idea what I was about to experience.
I arrived for setup early in the day with a few Men's Club members and Schott Communities staff. We did our typical setup of tables with the exception being we only set table cloths. There were no decorations. When I asked about the party format, it was explained that the families of the Schott Communities clients sponsor their own family table and it was their responsibility to bring food and decorate their table as they wished. We were just supplying the soda, beer, and wine. Having never experienced this type of event, I thought OK this should be interesting.
I returned with my wife just after the party start time to help serve and was amazed at what I saw. The hall had transformed itself into a myriad of colorful tables and decorations. Each table portrayed a theme that the family felt would make their deaf or disabled family member happy. I immediately felt the love and admiration these families had for each other because of the extraordinary efforts made. It was at this moment I realized that I could give of myself in a better way than just serving soda, beer, and cleaning up. I could use my camera by documenting the event and provide the images to Schott Communities and the families. I experienced:
There were flowers, balloons, and dancing. There was a celebrity, John Denney, #97, long snapper for Miami Dolphins, who attended with his wife and two young sons. The Schott Community clients were thrilled to be able to meet and spend time with a real professional football player.
The pleasure for me was being able to take my camera and freely mingle with these fabulous families. I could feel the love through the smiles and emotions and felt this was a great opportunity to capture the event through my lens.
As I spoke to the party organizers, I learned that the party was an opportunity for the families to go out and celebrate in an environment where no one was watching, judging, or making inappropriate comments. I was presented the opportunity to capture people relaxing and "letting it all hang out" when their lives on a normal day is very stressful. The attendees were very appreciative that I wanted to take pictures of them.
I recommend if anyone ever has the opportunity to volunteer services and photograph a charitable event, do it. Do it with no expectations except for the personal gratitude of the people or staff of the event. There is a great feeling of satisfaction meeting very caring and deserving people when all is said and done.
Schott Communities - Let's Have a Party: A Very Rewarding Shoot for Me!
If you would like to see images of the event, click here.
Enjoy and remember,
"Moments in time are lived once. Images of those moments live forever."