The city of Denver is home to nearly 700,000 people. Most of those people, if not all of them, have a dream, or two.
“My dream is help animals,” said 10-year-old Manuel Flores. “My dream is to have a house.”
Manuel lives with his family at the Salvation Army’s Lambuth Family Center in Denver. The center is short-term housing for families trying to get back on their feet. On Monday, however, it was a place where the kids who live there were encouraged to visualize what their future might look like.
“It’s just an honor to be able to help the children of Denver, to be able to show kids they can capture their hopes and dreams,” said Linda Solomon, a photojournalist and founder of Pictures of Hope.
Solomon started Pictures of Hope about 10 years ago. Since then, she’s traveled to 50 cities to hand out cameras to homeless children. She encourages them to take that camera, and go out into the world to capture their dreams with it.
“The kids aren’t dreaming for iPads, or anything like that,” Solomon said. “They’re always dreaming to help others that are homeless. They dream for their moms, they dream to have food, they dream to have a home, they dream for happiness.”
Flores and 14 other kids received cameras Monday, and a photo assignment to head out to capture their hopes with their new camera. They were all paired with a mentor. Many of the kids dream for a home, and came back from the assignment with photographs of houses. Manuel has a dream of going to college, so he snapped some photos of CEC Early College in Denver.
“I love it--it’s just cool having the camera,” Flores said. “I was so excited when I got it.”
One photograph will be chosen from every child to be printed on greeting cards. Linda Schlesinger-Wagner of Skinny Tees donated all of the funds to produce the cards, so all of the money raised goes directly back to the Salvation Army.
“They’re kids. They’re just kids,” said Schlesinger-Wagner. “You put a camera in front of a kid, and it changes their perception of everything.”
Schlesinger-Wagner knows a little bit about their struggle. Just seven years ago she herself was almost homeless.
“One day, not too long ago, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum and needing help,” Schlesinger-Wagner said. “I was lucky enough to have an idea to start a business that became magical and grew and QVC picked me up, and I said if I ever made money, I was going to help everyone I could.”
This is the first time Pictures of Hope has visited Denver. And Schlesinger-Wagner and Solomon will be back for the release of the greeting cards November 11th, 2016, at 802 Quari Court, Aurora, CO.
To pre-order cards,click here.
To learn more about Pictures of Hope, click here.
To learn more about the sponsor Skinny Tees, click here.