Growing up my family was not involved in volunteer work. My parents were in Jaycees for a while when I was very young but I never knew what it really was.
When I was introduced to the concept of volunteering in my early 20's I was confused. You mean people work for free? What?
Ever since then it is like I am trying to make up for lost time. I volunteer my time and talents at charity events and try to donate 120 gift certificates a year to fundraising efforts in the Peoria/Pekin area and surrounding communities.
The volunteer work closest to my heart is the work I do for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS)
Here is more information from the organization:
NILMDTS provides remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture. NILMDTS trains, educates, and mobilizes professional quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy. History Maddux Achilles Haggard was born on Feb. 4, 2005, with a condition called myotubular myopathy that prevented him from breathing, swallowing or moving on his own. On the sixth day of his young life, his parents had to make the excruciating decision to take him off life support. But before they did, they called Littleton, Colorado photographer Sandy Puc' to take black and white portraits of them cradling their son. Puc' photographed the couple with Maddux at the hospital before he was removed from life support and after — when he was free from the tubes and the wires that had sustained him. “That night was the worst night of my life. But when I look at the images, that’s not what I’m reminded of. I’m reminded of the beauty and blessings he brought,” Cheryl Haggard (Maddux's mom) said. Those tender photographs documenting Maddux’s eternal connection with his parents inspired Cheryl Haggard and Sandy Puc' to found a nonprofit organization that has provided thousands of families of babies who are stillborn or are at risk of dying as newborns with free professional portraits with their baby. Sandy and Cheryl founded the organization in April 2005 and called it Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) after the children’s bedtime prayer. Reach Since NILMDTS was founded in 2005, over 11,000 volunteer photographers have been part of the network. NILMDTS reaches every state in the United States and has been present in 40 countries worldwide.
Since I became a volunteer and then the Area Coordinator in 2006 I have personally photographed and/or retouched 45 sessions.
Our local organization is currently looking for volunteers. Photographers as well as non-photographers can help and are encouraged to contact me for more information!