Relief Portraits Cause for Tuscaloosa Tornado Victims
Today, I had the privilege to give a tiny bit of assistance to an event created by Miller Mobley, a New York City photographer and native of Tuscaloosa, AL along with his lovely wife Jana and much of their families and friends, right there in Tuscaloosa. Just blocks away from the horrible devastation of the tornado on April 27. American Christian Academy was the site, allowing us to use their gymnasium for Relief Portraits, a cause where families who had lost all or most of their belongings, particularly photographs and portraits that meant so much to them, could be brought in (many living in hotels or with friends or relatives) and have nice new portraits made and provided for them for free. Not only that, there was lots of clothes and food donated by local businesses, makeup artists were on hand to help make the women look their best (they did a wonderful job), and children had plenty to keep them busy and entertained while parents browsed the clothes. I was amazed to see the amount of donated time, talent and items for this event! I didn’t stay for the whole day, but I know there were over 50 portrait sittings while I was there.
Before I left Tuscaloosa, I drove further down 15th Street just blocks away to see the hardest hit area that is somewhat accessible, though I could see debris and downed trees everywhere I went..even at the school where the Relief Portraits event was held. I had only seen it previously on television and in online images. It is literally rubble as far as you can see from some areas. Like images of bombed out cities I’ve seen from WWII. But, it is clear that people are coming together to help each other and are optimistic about rebuilding. I’m sure there some very sad stories among the people who came in for the Relief Portraits event, but I didn’t see defeated faces there. I think what Miller set out to do was accomplished. Provide some hope. Some relief. Some smiles. Kudos to all who gave.