Saturday, August 27, 2011

When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try one more time." Unknown


Did I want to go to a men's shelter and shoot?
This is what my favorite newspaper editor,
Len Lear, called and asked me in June.
The Chestnut Hill Local was doing an article
on DePaul USA shelter in Philadelphia.
Would I go there and shoot the men for their article?
I wasn't sure this was a good assignment for me.
Now, as a social worker, I had been to a few shelters.
I had never been to a shelter just for men though.
I was leery.
I decided to go because I love stories.
I love people.
I {sometimes} love getting out of my comfort zone.
I had ideas of what I would see.
I had ideas of why the men were there.
You can just imagine the ideas I had.
I was wrong about many of my perceptions.
The men I met at DePaul USA changed me.
They changed me
because they made me realize
we could all be there
if circumstances were different.
If we didn't have a net of family and friends
to catch us when life is overwhelming.
If we lived in intense poverty.
If we were surrounded
by violence and negativity and despair
day in and day out.
We could be there too.
But for the grace of God, we don't live in a shelter.
The men I met at DePaul USA are hard workers.
Many of them work 2 or 3 jobs a week.
They are not high income earners
 because many don't have high school diplomas.
These men are not only earning income while at DePaul,
 they are earning their degrees.
They are starting a new life with a new outlook.
I love that these men are at DePaul
and they are making positive changes.
They are trying to make better choices.
Trying to write new chapters in the story of their life.
I know they will.
These men will be forever ingrained in my heart.
I have prayed for them daily since meeting them.
We are richly blessed.
May God bless these men and the lives they are recreating.




62 comments:

Gigi said...

This was utterly beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I will be praying for them too.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. some beautiful pics...i love going places like this...they do have stories to tell and they will add chapters to it well after we leave them...but now you are in them as well...smiles.

lifebythecreek said...

What a beautiful and compassionate glimpse into lives that many sometimes overlook or think of as "lesser". Jesus told us that whatever we do for "the least of these", we do to Him. And whatever we don't do for them... ditto. God created them in His image and He loves them no less. So why should we? But we do... maybe because we're afraid. Afraid of having to face just what you said; the fact that but for the grace of God.. that could be us. May we look at all people through His eyes and see their beauty and worth. I think THAT is your greatest gift, Becky... the ability to already do that. xoxox...

Tracy P. said...

That's exactly what my grandma has always said: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." I'll never forget it. You did an amazing job. I'm glad they have a place with people helping them have hope.

Shey said...

what a great post, I never knew shelters for men existed, I love the title of this post and I'm glad those men have not given up. God bless them.

Lexie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lexie said...

what a beautiful post.
what beautiful, sweet souls. i pray God showers them with blessings.

"there, but for the grace of God..."

p.s. thank you for the comment on my blog!! i'm majoring in social work, which i saw was what you used to do!! how awesome!

p.s.s. your son is WAY to cute. that hair<3

M said...

Hve I told you your posts get better and better?!

Thanks for opening our minds and hearts...

Tabitha Blue @ Fresh Mommy said...

Oh how beautiful and touching!! I love how your photos tell the story just as much as your words do. And I love how easily we can have perceptions that can be changed by just being open. Great post!!

Oh, and your blog look is gorgeous!!!! :)

Leesha said...

What a fabulous opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and tell some amazing stories! How true it is about the network of family and friends, as you put it, can catch us if need be. Whew. What a lovely post!

oceangirl said...

You have captured the story.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing your photos, I love that you subtlely captured moments, and that you went to take these photos even though it put you out of your comfort zone. I think we all need to do something that take us out of complacency every so often.

Rachel said...

I love when God takes something we think we understand - then turns it upside down and shows us PEOPLE. From the inside.

What a beautiful way to learn it... so glad you had this experience and that you love us enough to share it.

allenaim photography and design said...

Wow - what a powerful post...I am totally inspired...

Maggie May said...

I enjoyed going there with you.
I often go past a hostel on my way to town & have often wondered what it is like in there.
I guess it probably isn't as homely as this one.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

TechnoBabe said...

It seems like it would be an honor to be asked to take the pictures at the shelter. You must have a good rep to be asked. Your work while at the shelter shows how good you are, out of your zone and surrounded by men you did not previously know. I so like seeing all the pictures of the shelter and hearing the good work behind it.

Suki said...

Wonderful post. I loved what you saw there. Truly touching!xxx

Jodi said...

Beautiful! What amazing men to be willing to humble themselves to better themselves. Thank you for stepping our of your comfort zone and sharing with us.

Tamar SB said...

I love places like this. They really give you perspective and appreciate life and change your perceptions. You captured these men and the shelter beautifully!

Amy Cappelli said...

Wow! This is such an inspiring and enlightening piece. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Angela said...

Beautiful posts and what beautiful images. You have such a kind heart- that is so obvious!

Formerly known as Frau said...

Beautiful shots you really captured the shelter in a new light. Thank you for sharing it can only change all of our perspectives through your eyes. I'm praying for theses men too.

Jim said...

We have a chapters of that society here in Canada as well.....It's called the St.Vincent dePaul Society. We don't the shelters but they do a lot of work with the homeless. My parents both volunteered bringing meals to the needy.
What a good experience Becky to have....really! Not many of us would take on that task. What strength these men must have to try and get back on their feet and start again. We take so much for granted.
Thanks for dropping by, always appreciate your perspective on things.
Jim

Tara R. said...

Your photo essay is incredible. You tell such a wonderful story of hope and redemption.

Sarah said...

What a beautiful story. The story you captured with your words and photos is just wonderful. Thank you for sharing this!

Cora said...

Wonderful Story, inspiring! thank you for sharing and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Martha said...

thanks for sharing! what great photos.

Buckeroomama said...

I think you are the perfect choice for this assignment, not because you are a social worker who takes beautiful pictures, but because you *SEE* with your heart. They should use not just your photos for their article, but also your words here. Beautiful, Becky.

Shonni said...

This is one of the most touching and beautiful articles I have ever read!!!!

Adrienne said...

So MOVING ~ wonderfully written and what you captured with your camera was tender and inspiring.

Rachel @ A Cupcake for Moose said...

Strength and dignity can be found everywhere and is evident on the faces you've captured so beautifully. I love your heart!

lisleman said...

great pics great story
I'm amazed how clean and orderly the place looks.

Rachel said...

absolutely phenomenal set.
Thank you for sharing your gorgeous pictures and this story with us.

BLOGitse said...

What a meaningful post, thanks for sharing it!
Have a beautiful week ahead!

toi said...

I love your photos always. these ones are great documentary to the lives of those hard working me, I pray God so that they hard work will be rewarded.

Thanks for sharing :).

Eleanor said...

REALLY great photo's! I didnt know you were a social worker.

Unknown Mami said...

I'm so glad you went. I'm at work and you've got me all choked up.

Sue said...

Inspirational. Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful photos and your experience.

=)

Leovi said...

Great article with beautiful pictures, very good.

JeNae@The Terrace Housewife said...

What a beautiful photo essay...thanks for sharing :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I pray that they all get a fresh start in life...it is what we all deserve.
great photos Becky.
xo

Jeanette said...

Fantastic post!! Love the stories your photos told, just beautifully done

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful place! Serving the Lord while serving others. Awesome!

Marisa @ Walking My Ass Off said...

Yes...we cannot see what tomorrow may bring and we might find ortselves in the same situation. You photos really captured the heart and soul of these men...I wish them the best.

Maddy said...

Oh Becky!! You were the perfect person for the job! I love how you always manage to capture the very best in people! And you're so right...there's so much more than meets the eye. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into the lives of these men.

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Wow, B, this is SO powerful and SO beautiful. Just amazing...and I'm blessed to have read it tonight.

Sure hope Irene was kind(er) to you and your sweet family. XO!

Laurie Matherne said...

Well done! Well done! I used to volunteer at a women's shelter that was...close to a men's shelter. Sometimes I talked with the guys. They are just like us. I recall one young man who was struggling with mental illness and a recent divorce. He was able to get a job and eventually an apartment, but it was hard without the support of his mom, or dad, or other family members. I recall how alone he was without the support of the men's center. Thank God for our families. Thank God for prayers for men and women who need a helping hand.

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

Oh Becky... what an inspiring post. Trying to write new chapters in the story of their life. Now that is an amazing thing. Not everyone can turn their lives around like that. What an inspiration these men are. How wonderful that you were part of sharing their story. Great photographs!

Secret Agent Mama said...

So poignant. Thank you.

Denise said...

I adore this post so hard. I'm so sharing it on twitter and Facebook right now.

Thank you for this. Thank you for getting out of your comfort zone. This was beautiful!

myrelish said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

sheila said...

Oh this is just wonderful! You've captured some beautiful shots. I like the one of the man taking out the garbage. I think your words say it all though. If not but for the little coincidences in life, we might not see or learn about others. I just love this post, well done!

Molly said...

Hi Becky! Thank you so much for the sweet comment on my blog. What a beautiful, inspiring post about these special men. And what an adorable son you have. <3

Sarah said...

The words and the pictures brought tears to my eyes, reminding me how blessed I truly am!

Amy said...

WOW! We are blessed. Praying that these men can turn it their lives around. Can't imagine.

Mare Freeborn said...

Have been reading your blog for about a year now (I'm kinda a lurker I guess). Anyway - had to comment on this post. I know for sure that any of this could be in these shelters and for any number of reasons - I have almost been there myself (um - not in one for men, tho. LOL) . I am grateful for places like this in our area (I live in Delco right outside of Philly). Because above all things hope is what is needed to get you there & that's what these places do. Provide hope. I am not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but I so love looking at your pics. I get a look at my city that I've never had before and it's lovely. And BTW - I think you should let your son grow his hair as long as he wants it. It makes him an individual and I love that you let him express himself. I love his hair!!! ;-)

Maria said...

This was beautiful Becky. I pray every day, thankful for the roof over my head & the family that helps me keep it there. I moved to a new town, I am still unemployed (from a real full time job) although I do work (caring for kids is hard work). Without the help & support of my family I don't know where I'd be.
Always thankful & always praying for those less fortunate.
Peace,
Maria

jlo said...

I always say we are one major appliance away from bankrupcy/homeless shelter, etc. It is hard in times like these and thank you for making me remember to be thankful for what I do have! Good for these guys and the changes they are trying to make!

Elaine A. said...

WOW. You gave me major chills with this. These men are so inspiring, as are you. I'm so glad you decided to go there...

Your photos are beautiful as always.

Stacy Uncorked said...

I love this. You've captured the true essence of hope for/in these men.

WW: First Day of 3rd Grade

Anne said...

Those photos are amazing, and the story is even better.

Christina (fivewalkers) said...

Becky, you have an amazing life. You amaze me. I know there are opportunities for me in this city to reach out to people who are in similar circumstances as these men; there are people who are trying to change their lives, and there are many ministries that help them (a lot of them my church partners with). Yet I sit in my safe little part of the world, looking at my own internal mess, my impoverished heart, the violence and negativity and despair that are in my own mind literally wreaking havoc. I need to look outside of myself. I would like to pray for them, and also really challenge myself to find a way to get involved here. Do you know the song "The God of This City"? It's a good one. That's what this post made me think of. You have a big heart full of (His) love. Thanks for sharing it all over.