Flashes of Hope, Photographing Pediatric Cancer Patients and Their Families
For most of my adult life I have been volunteering with kids. After graduating college I worked with immigrant high school students doing literacy training. For 9 years I was a big brother volunteer, spending a day each week with my "little brother". I have hosted 7 foreign exchange students through AFS. High school students lived with me for a school year, becoming part of my family.
What I have discovered is that whatever I give, I get so much more out of the experience: at the end of a school year the student can read at grade level, going for a hike with my little brother, stopping at a vista where he shouted "I never climbed a mountain before", visiting the home of one of my hosted students and being treated like a long lost relative by their family.
In 2010 I found Flashes of Hope on Facebook. The organization arranges photoshoots at pediatric cancer treatment facilities. This combined two of my passions, photography and kids.
My first shoot was at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone. I knew I would be impacted, but had no idea to what extent. After photographing each patient I needed to retreat behind my background paper to compose myself. I was also not prepared for how the photographs and the experience of a photo shoot impacted the kids, families, and hospital staff.
Before long I became NY Chapter Director (volunteer) organizing shoots in 3 hospitals. I love bringing in other volunteers (photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists) to share the love.
Understandably the Covid Pandemic put a halt to the program. The kids are immunocompromised.
Last month I was shocked when I received a call requesting a shoot at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. Within a week I found hair stylist Jason Monet and makeup artist Tatiana Sada to collaborate on the shoot. It was a success and felt great to be back at it. The hospital asked me not to share images of the patients. I am sharing a photo from my first shoot back in 2010!