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Learning To Give Back

I recently developed a great love for photography. I freely admit that the main reason is because I want to beautifully document our lives, my sons growing up, our family memories and special events. I’m a beginner in this craft, but it’s a worthy goal to want to excel at something that can bring a lot of happiness to many, so I plan to keep at it, practice and study. I also simply love it.

There is another reason for my interest in photography that I don’t really share much, because it’s rather personal. It’s actually something that really touched my heart when I first learned about it: the discovery that photographers are using their skill to bless others who can’t afford to hire a photographer but need one- specifically, photographers are volunteering their skills for children who have terminal cancer and families who are not going to ever be able to bring their newborn baby home. Learning about this wonderful gift they are giving families, a photographic memory of a loved one who won’t be around much longer, instilled a sense of urgency in me to want to help, and become a skilled photographer so I can capture something important for those who have very little time left but no means to get it.

baby 2

Organizations like Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which help connect experienced photographers with parents who are facing the loss of a baby, are providing a service that can help assuage some of the pain they are suffering. Other similar charities are The Maple Leaf Project and The Smiling Eyes Project, which focus on terminal cancer patients, military families, and more. All require that the photographer excel, with at least three years experience, because these families deserve nothing less for a memento of their loved one.

I help out my community in other ways as well, by volunteering at church and community events and donating to organizations that are special to me. My husband and I used to be volunteer EMTs but as our lives changed, the ways in which we give back have also, and I have a soft spot for children’s charities, so organizations such as these are very important to me. I’m learning, because I want to give back.

kleenex logo

Brand Statement: Kleenex brand, America’s softest tissue*, knows that once one experiences the softness of Kleenex brand tissues, they will be eager to share it with other cold and flu sufferers, friends and strangers alike, as a way to show they care. This cold and flu season, make the care complete with a Kleenex Brand Care Pack, and together we’ll turn a seemingly-small gesture into something bigger, to make everyone feel better. Visit kleenex.com/softness to learn more.

Compensation was provided by Kleenex via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kleenex.

*photo of my son taken with iPhone, not representative of above organizations

  • I never knew of such an organization. I would love to help them out- but I’m not a professional by any means- just a girl with a fancy camera that loves to experiment with artsy shots. Thanks for the info!

  • I am glad you told us that is not a baby from the NILMDTS program. I was thinking how gorgeous and perfect a baby it was! And about to cry for the loss.

  • Penelope

    I wouldn’t have taken a photo of one of those poor sweet babies just to use here (seemed inappropriate) and I know what you mean…I cried when I saw them on their site, and that’s when I knew I wanted to offer this to those parents. Those babies are so sweet and perfect and I can’t imagine the pain their parents felt 🙁

  • I donated my wedding dress to a company that turns it into burial gowns for infants who passed. I couldn’t imagine that pain.

  • What a beautiful way to give back. I had never even heard of these programs but I’ll be watching out for ways to help them {other than photography because I’m definitely not skilled enough}.

  • You take beautiful pictures and this is a great cause. I think I would find it so hard to do though.

  • That would be a wonderful to give back.

  • I too have a soft spot for children’s organizations. I’ve never heard of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, but seems like a fab organization for families. You are truly amazing, Penelope and your practice will only make you perfect!

  • Jenn

    I wish I could have contacted NILMDTS for my SIL. Her baby lived 2 weeks and they knew as soon as she was born that she’d never come home. We only have one picture of her.

  • Penelope

    I never heard of this, but what a wonderful organization. If you know the name can you share it? I think this is something I would like to do.

  • Penelope

    Me either, it’s going to take me at least 3 years of study and working to be considered. They only want excellent photographers with experience, because you only really have one chance to do this and these parents deserve the best photos of their children. I’m motivated though, and in the meantime I can help them in other ways.

  • What a wonderful way to bless others!

  • THis is such an awesome gift to give grieving parents. You’re going to do wonderfully!

  • What a touching, beautiful way to help others. After all, photos are simply visual reminders of our memories.

  • http://www.marymadelineproject.org/our_story.html

    I knew I wasn’t going to keep my dress for a daughter I didn’t know I’d have. So I cut the straps off, and saved my veil, but sent my dress in. I’m happy I did. I can’t remember the name of the place I sent mine into, but a quick google search returned this one, and it looks pretty familiar. 🙂

  • Oh! I found the article I used to find where to donate – here is that link bc it has a lot of great ideas… but the place I actually donated was Heavenly Angels In Need.

  • Penelope

    Thank you!

  • What a great idea. When my stepfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer we had photos taken. It was a hard day but we are so glad we did.

  • wow, I’ve never heard of anything like this but how beautiful. I really want to look into it. I’m not a professional but I would love to use what skills I have to give back to families.

  • such a great program and I couldn’t handle the loss of a child.

  • What a beautiful way to give back.

  • That is a wonderful way to give back!

  • What a sweet organization. You are doing great with your photography!

  • I love that people are willing to donate their time and their talent to such a worthy cause.

  • Donna

    I wish I had a better eye for photography. Luckily my husband does, so at least we do have some nice candid shots of my son throughout his life so far. I’ll share this with my b-i-l, he has had his photography featured in magazines, and sells his photographs.

  • Penelope

    Wow, you are so lucky to have two people to help you if you are interested in photography!

  • Giving back is so important. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to do everything, but it’s amazing how you can find small ways to give back all around you.

  • What a lovely and thoughtful goal. So often when babies don’t make it home the parents have so little that is concrete to memorialize their children with…. just their broken hearts.

  • What an amazing organization. I can imagine how helpful this would be during the healing process of their loss.

  • I have a love for photography, but need to learn how to use my dslr in a mode other than auto. I think taking pictures for organizations that help children is awesome!

  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep sounds like an amazing organization.

  • What a great thing they are doing.

  • You have such a big heart, Penelope. This just made me love you all the more! I have to look into this organization and see if there is some way that I can contribute!

  • What a wonderful idea. Your pictures are beautiful and that would be a beautiful thing to do with your skills.

  • You are so incredibly generous. I need to start giving back..

  • what a great way to give back to the community I would love to enhance my photography skills

  • Maryann @ Matthew's Puzzle

    That is amazing.

  • what a great lovely post and goal.