I volunteered for an organization called Help-Portrait, a global a community of photographers coming together across the world to use their skills to give back to their local community. During the month of December, photographers around the world grabbed their cameras, found people in need and took their picture.

On Saturday Help-Portrait gave Far Rockaway families something they may have never had before—a portrait together. They also offered free photograph restoration for those whose pictures were damaged in the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy.   

We had close to 200 families come through the Goldie-Maple Academy middle school in Far Rockaway, where many of the families lost their homes to flooding, wind, and mold damage. Not being a photographer or editor,  I was asked to do makeup for the women and children before their shoot.  Some women had never put on makeup before, and others couldn’t hold back tears of gratitude and through telling their story to documentary cameras (lots of mascara applications!).  Needless to say, it was a truly emotional and awe-striking experience.

It was amazing to see a fatigued mother of 6 sit in the makeup chair for 20 minutes and  transform into a fresh, radiant woman with a smile the length of the gymnasium as she posed with her boys.  We got to see families jump, hug, kiss and celebrate the start of new memories in front of the cameras of some of New York’s finest photographers. I am truly humbled and so grateful this organization exists. At the end of the day, the families left with professionally edited and printed photos, a hard drive of the remaining photos, and toys and gifts given by Santa Clause is Coming to town.

If one of these events is in  your area, please go and help, you will always remember that day.