Project Title

Sharon High School Photography Club

Being 4’9” did not stop me three years ago from having a larger than life vision of how I could help people in need. An article in The Sharon Advocate, my local town newspaper, inspired me. “What if I told you hope can bloom for someone with breast cancer, and all it takes is some plants, shovels, and mulch,” said the founder of Hope In Bloom, Roberta Hershon. She made me begin to think, what if I combined my passion for photography, my love of gardening, and my desire to help others less fortunate than I into greeting cards where the proceeds would go to helping people with breast cancer. Hope In Bloom is a non-profit organization that plants gardens free of charge at the homes of men and women undergoing breast cancer treatment. After making a formal proposal to my principal, I recruited an advisor and a friend to form The Sharon High School Photography Club. Over the past three plus years the club has grown to thirty-three dedicated members. Our club’s goal is to raise enough money to plant at least one garden each year. These “healing gardens,” as the photography club calls them, can cost anywhere between $500 and $3000 each.

These gardens provide patients with a beautiful escape and retreat where they can experience the healing effects of nature. I have seen first hand how nature can heal one’s soul. Two summers ago, I helped plant two gardens, one for a mother and another for her daughter, both of whom had breast cancer. The experience brought tears to all the volunteers’ eyes to hear their stories, but more importantly it brought happy tears to see how the two gardens were helping these women cope with their illnesses. I have learned that breast cancer has no boundaries. It can happen to the rich, poor, young, and old. At one of the shows we sold our cards, a father was so moved by what we were trying to accomplish, that he went home to get his daughter who was eight. He wanted to introduce us to her; you see she was going through treatment for cancer.

Meeting this little girl made all the obstacles that the club may go through seem minor. I knew that day, that the photo club would not be just an ordinary high school club; it would be a universal club that would touch lives everywhere. We have managed to remain positive and focused on the people we have helped and those we hope to help. What makes our project different than other projects is not so much what we do, but the passion behind it.

Last spring, the Sharon High School Photography Club “dug in” when we planted our first garden for Priscilla, a forty-year-old woman who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. A landscape designer, a fountain designer, and fourteen photo club students and I arrived at Priscilla’s house at 10:00 am and were on our hands and knees until 5:00 pm converting her backyard into a garden oasis. As we were digging through mounds of dirt, we stumbled upon a heart shaped rock. At that moment I felt so connected to what I was doing that I felt that there was almost a high power helping us make this miracle come alive. This experience not only brought joy to Priscilla and her family, but also brought joy to me as well. We were so happy to have given this garden to her, knowing that all our hard work mattered. It is amazing to see how a little mulch and a couple flowers can make such a dramatic impact on someone’s life.

 

Update: August 2011

To date we have raised close to $8,000 towards gardens.

To create more awareness last year we contacted famous photographer from around the world to donate one of their pieces of artwork to be auctioned off in an online fundraiser. Some of these artists were Annie Leibovitz, Anne Geedes, Elsa Dorfman and many others.

The club has been recognized in The Boston Sunday Globe, The Sharon Advocate, and on Channel 5 News, New England Cable News, J Choice website, Teen Choice website, and has had a gallery showing in a local shop.

This summer we planted another garden with Tovah Martin, a well known horticulturist/journalist/photographer for a Sharon resident undergoing treatment.

Although I am now entering my freshman year at Ithaca College, I have made sure that the club will continue with underclassmen.

For additional information on our upcoming venues please contact Sharon High School, Sharon, MA. Jessica Chabot is the new president. Ms Shelby/Walker is our club advisor.

 

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