November 7, 2011

Joplin Smile

"On May 22nd, 2011, Joplin, Missouri was hit by one of the most devastating tornadoes this country has ever seen. The families affected by this storm are now having to pick up the pieces of rubble to sort through what is left of their possessions and memories. Many of them will have to start totally from scratch. We wanted to help beyond what the relief organizations have done. So we have come up with a project called "Joplin Smile!" 

"We are a large group of professional photographers from the Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri areas who have banded together to donate photo sessions for the families who have been hit by this devastating tornado. Photos are such an important part of life, and we firmly believe that no one should be without these precious memories. We cannot replace what you lost, but we would love to help you create some new memories and move forward with hope."

October 8th my husband, my mom and my two kids headed out on the 3 hour drive to Joplin. We arrived about 12:30 and my first session was at 1. I was scheduled for 6 sessions but ended up only doing 5 because one family ended up not being able to be there. The sessions were back to back and I would take small breaks in between to grab something to drink or feed my baby. It was a long day, but went by fast at the same time. My husband was an excellent assistant, walking around with me doing/getting whatever I needed! And I'm so grateful to my mom for watching my kids (who did GREAT) ALLLLL day! They stayed in one spot pretty much the entire time, playing and napping on the ground. I call that LOVE. :) We were all very exhausted when it was done, but happy to have helped out in some way.

It was a blessing getting to know the families and hearing their stories. One family amazingly will be moving back into their home soon, but the rest lost their homes. I can't even imagine what the people in the pictures below experienced. One fell through his apartment floor into the next apartment, another hid in a closet with her family and had the door ripped right out of her hands, some sought shelter in a church...... so many stories...... it's a miracle they were not hurt or killed. Afterward, we drove around Joplin and it's true whatever everyone says "you can't describe how bad it is" and what we saw was actually a HUUUUUGE improvement.

It was an honor to be a part Joplin Smile and I hope these pictures continue to help these families move forward in putting their lives back together!

Thank you Brian and Kelley Fantasma for putting together Joplin Smile!

Glenn Family

Mitchell Family

Howard Family

Sangale Family

Orr Family

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