Yes, giving IS awesome.

“Don’t wait for people to be kind. Show them how.” — Author Unknown

Some of you may recall before the holidays I posted that I was participating in the “giving is awesome” effort that hundreds of other photographers across the country were doing as a way of giving back to those in need. I was excited to be able to help others through my photography.¬†After receiving a few nominations I found the nomination made by one of my former students, Wendy Johnson, to be the most moving. Wendy told me of a neighbor she had that lost her job in 2008. Her neighbor, Yvette English, is a single mother of two children and has struggled to make ends meet and provide for her children after losing a six figure income. Though Wendy’s nomination was moving I must admit reading an article the Orlando Sentinel wrote after reporters interviewed Yvette last fall only moved me more.

During the holiday break I made contact with Yvette and we began to plan a photoshoot with her and the kids. Both of our schedules have been so demanding that we had to put off the session until last week. We decided to meet at one of their favorite locations, the dog park Pawmosa in Casselberry, so that their dog Polo could join us for a few photos. Yvette mentioned to me that she hadn’t taken photos of her with the kids since they were much younger so I was happy to be able to help capture a few candid moments with her, the kids, and their dog Polo.

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I don’t get to photograph preteens and teens as often as babies and toddlers so it was a new challenge. I found myself a few times wishing I could play “peek-a-boo” like I do with the little ones to illicit more genuine smiles. They were both so awesome though and I enjoyed getting to capture a few moments with them for Yvette. As I did I began to think of how much they’ve been affected by all that has happened. Something tells me they’ll both grow that much stronger through the adversity their family has faced recently.

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Yvette mentioned that not much has changed since the Orlando Sentinel article in November. She continues to seek employment with medical technology companies and has a couple interviews coming up. The last two years she’s struggled to provide for her children, has faced foreclosure, is in the midst of the final stages of a divorce and as she does she too continues to find it in herself to give back and volunteer. When we met last week that topic came up and we both agreed that by giving of ourselves and helping others we not only felt better because we were able to help others who needed us but it helped take our minds off of all our own challenges. As challenging as things have been for her I admired seeing how much determination she has had and how she refuses to be defeated by all the challanges she’s faced.

Yvette I hope you and your family enjoy the moments I captured last week. It was a pleasure finally getting to meet you and the kids. Best wishes to you and your family…I have faith that better days are ahead. Thank you for reminding me that giving IS awesome.

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April 13, 2010 - 12:01 am

Wendy K Johnson - Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yvette was so thrilled. There aren’t many things that she can look forward too… this was one of them. Thank you Amanda.

April 13, 2010 - 2:35 pm

Sandi Vidal - Yvette is truly a blessing and your pictures are amazing. She has worked very hard to give back to Christian HELP and we just love her all the more for it. Thank you for sharing.

April 15, 2010 - 8:27 pm

Stacy Fernandez - Thank you so much for doing this, you could not have picked a better person! I have known Yvette for over 9 years now, my son and her son attended pre-school together and have been wonderful friends ever since.

What amazes me daily is Yvette’s continued positive spirit amidst all that has happened to her! I know times have been tough, and she has endured a lot, but somehow, because of her positive spirit and strong faith in God, she will come out on top off all of this a winner!

April 21, 2010 - 9:59 pm

Lisa Mountcastle - Amanda, you are a very talented photographer! I have to agree with the other posts in that you could have not picked a better person to give to than Yvette. Yvette is a true blessing and inspiration to me and am so greatful to have her in my life!

May 6, 2010 - 11:43 am

Angela King - Amanda I want to compliment you on your blessings to others and for also choosing Yvette. Yvette is my cousin and is joy to be around. I am encouraged by her faith in God how she never gives up no matter what the challenge that is presented before her. Thanks again for blessing them and may God continue to bless you in all you do for other.

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