100 homeless people. 100 cameras. One mission.
On June 29, Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service will unveil its In Plain Sight – Homelessness Exposed Photography Art Project to create awareness for the growing concern over poverty in St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren county communities. Designed to put a face on the harsh realities of poverty, the project has enlisted the help of homeless individuals themselves to become a part of the solution by telling their stories through the lens of a camera. If a picture paints a thousand words, then In Plain Sight should serve to provide the homeless with a strong voice to elicit action and impact change in our local communities.
April 18 marked the beginning of a 4-month call to action with the distribution of 100 disposable cameras to 100 local homeless residents, who used the cameras to tell their own stories of what it’s like to live unsheltered here. On April 26 the cameras were collected and participants who completed the photography assignment received backpacks filled with supplies of basic need items and gift cards for food. Along with the Care Service, the Salvation Army – St. Charles, First United Methodist Church in St. Charles, First Baptist Church in Elsberry and Creekside Place Church in Truesdale all served as distribution and collection sites for the project.
Selection of the top 20 photographs was conducted mid-May by a panel of judges, consisting of local leaders and supporters of Care Service programs. Content, quality and ability to tell a story were part of the selection criteria. The panel of judges included Wendy Berry (Executive Director -Cottleville-Weldon Spring Chamber of Commerce), Molly Dempsey (Community Relations Manager – St. Charles County), Julie Feast (Community Advocate/Customer Service Advisor – Ameren Missouri), Grace Harmon (life-long community supporter and advocate), Lisa Johnston (New Media Journalist – St. Louis Review), Matt Miller (Community Ministries Pastor – Calvary Church), Charla Whalen-Mueller (Corporate Communications/External Affairs – Toyota Motor North America), and Kristin Williams (Foundation & Community Outreach Director – Barnes-Jewish St. Peters & Progress West Hospitals).
The photography collection will be exhibited from June 29 through August 20 at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre and is open to the public. The exhibit features a web-based audio tour that will tell the story behind each picture, conveniently accessed from the internet on any smart phone. Through the site, the public can also vote for best photograph, by way of online donation, to determine the winners. Photographers of the top three pictures will receive prizes, based on their most immediate needs. The exhibit website, www.InPlainSight.live, will unveil the photographs on the first day of the live exhibit, June 29.
A dinner auction event will be held on Saturday, August 19 at the Cultural Arts Centre to announce the winners and auction the 20 framed photographs to raise funds to assist those served by Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service programs. Tickets for the event are available for $50 per person.
A traveling exhibit will feature additional photographs from the project and will be displayed at local sites in the area on an ongoing basis.
Similar projects have been successfully organized in other cities across the U.S. and internationally. “While it is not an entirely new idea,” explains Pam Struckhoff, Director of Program Services, “it is new to our local area and we hope that it will shine a bright light in the minds of those who are unaware of the need that exists here.” The Care Service hopes the project will heighten the level of engagement by the community to break the cycle of homelessness for the next generation.
Local sponsors of In Plain Sight – Homelessness Exposed include Barnes-Jewish St. Peters & Progress West Hospitals, Ameren Missouri, Calvary Church, Behlmann Automotive – Troy, the Annual Catholic Appeal, Winning Technologies and Mercy. For more information or to become a sponsor, contact Karen Grant, Director of Development, at (636) 441-1302, ext. 263. Tickets can be purchased online through this website or by phone.
For more about Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service, see our website.