Share The Warm, an appeal for a photograph to help feed the homeless

A Sunday Friendship Breakfast.

November 25, 2015  It is early morning as I write this, the day before Thanksgiving, 2015. There is a double moon setting over our lake, one in the sky and another twinkling in the water. It’s crystal clear, with the temperature at 27 outside our nice warm cabin. The day holds promise for Kathy and me. We’re doing double birthday portraits of our grandsons, Zak and Matt. It’s become an annual thing andthey, of course, are amazing grandchildren.

But at the same time, as I look out on this perfect landscape photograph, I can’t help but think what the day holds for some homeless people I know who don’t have it as good as we do. I wonder if Debbie can see the moon as she wakes under the warm exhaust fan at Tommy’s Diner. Or Courtney, another homeless woman I’ve met recently, who sleeps on the steps of the Cathedral in Providence. I try to imagine what she sees when she peeks out from under her pile of blankets. Or my buddyVernon, a resident at Crossroads, who has started a business called “Humble Beginnings.”. What does he see out his window?

One thing I do know about them is that they are hungry, as are thousands of other homeless and sheltered men and women who are waking up today. They want something to eat. Easy for Kathy and I here on our golden pond, but not so easy for all of the Vernons and Debbies out there.

We volunteer at a soup kitchen in Providence called The Sunday Friendship Breakfast, run out of the Mathewson United Methodist Church. It is just over a year ago that we have been going and it has been an epiphany for me. Although I thought I knew about homelessness, I really didn’t “know” it until we started helping out there. Like so many things inlife, until you experience something up close, you really don’t understand. And even now, luckily, talking with these men and women, I still don’t really know how difficult it must be for them. I’ve never slept under an exhaust fan, or in a shelter.  But I’ve seen the overpasses where they sleep and walked the sidewalks where they walk. And I’ve heard their stories. 

 Exhaust fan at Tommy's Diner

Exhaust fan at Tommy's Diner

I have begun making portraits of these mostly invisible people who come to the soup kitchen. I give them 4 x 6 prints, which they really appreciate. You can see some of these pictures on my website if you care to look, part of what now has become my way to raise awareness of homelessness with my photographs.  And I’m writing to ask you share your photographic talents to help feed the homeless at The Sunday Friendship Breakfast.

Background: The Sunday Friendship Breakfast feeds somewhere between 250 - 300 hungry men and women and some families every Sunday morning (plus on special days like Thanksgiving and Christmas). They provide a nourishing meal of oatmeal, eggs, sausage, home fries, pancakes, fruit and coffee. Doing the math that is 52 weeks x 275, or 14,300 meals per year. Some of the money to buy the food and supplies comes from grants made by suburban churches and others. But of course it’s never enough. And the people, the new faces, the men, women and children, they just keep coming and they are hungry.

I am writing to my photography friends at the Newport Photographers' Guild to ask you for a picture for an exhibit Kathy Caswell and I are putting together called “Share The Warmth” to be held on Sunday afternoon, January 7th, from 1 to 4 PM at the Newport Yacht Club. We will offer your picture for sale at a silent auction, all proceeds to purchase food for the soup kitchen.

Details: Donate a matted and framed photograph about 11 x14 to 16 x 20 inches finished size. The subject of your image can really be anything but the theme is “Scapes”, that is, landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, etc. because we think these might have the most sales appeal for an exhibit like this one. We will begin the bid at $65 - $85 depending on size but hope at silent auction your picture will go for more.

I am asking for a picture from you. Will you donate one of your favorite images to help feed those far less fortunate than you and I?  If so, please send me an email with the subject line “Share The Warmth”.  Say "yes" and include your contact information. I will put you on my list and more details will follow both through the Newport Photographers’ Guild, email and on this website. And please respond soon!

janthephotoman@gmail.com