Hello MOPPA Family! I am Molly Beale, a senior/family photographer out of the Kansas City area. Normally, I would be paralyzed trying to figure out what to write about, but I pretty much had something in mind. For the last 3-4 years, I’ve been helping the Heart Gallery.
Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care. The Heart Gallery is a collaborative project of over 80 Heart Galleries across the United States designed to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing homes in our community.
It has been over 15 years that Heart Gallery has been going around different places showing off the wonderful photos that volunteers have taken of these children. These children have been removed from abusive and neglectful situations and they still have hope. They love to laugh, to learn, and to be with their friends. Most of all, they dream of finding a forever family to be their own.
The Heart Gallery in Jackson County has traveled to many different businesses and organizations, including local coffee shops, and churches.
These photos are also posted to the Adoption Exchange website where families are able to read about the children and request more information from the caseworker or Jessica Latta, Children’s Service Specialist with the Jackson County Children’s Division.
For the most part, this is a super simple project. I do about a shoot a month. It normally takes just a few hours. Jessica contacts me to ask for a day that I can get a few kids photographed. We decide on a place to shoot, and she gets a list together. The families then bring the kids in and we do what I would consider a “micro” shoot (unless I have more time, and the kid is being cooperative, I’ll shoot a little longer). I do a minor edit on the photos, and send them to Jessica via Dropbox. Since the kids are in the foster care system, I am not allowed to share any of the photos on social media.
Sometimes it can be a little difficult (I once had a tween/teen brother and sister whose parents had just that week had their parental rights revoked and would have NO part of the photos), but for the most part, the kids and their foster parents are very appreciative, and it is heartwarming for me to think I had any part of them finding their forever homes. Jessica has informed me that they are in need of photographers, especially in the rural areas of Missouri. I can tell you from personal experience, if you enjoy photographing kids, this is very rewarding.
I would be happy to answer any questions that weren’t addressed in this post, and if you are interested in just jumping in and going for it, here’s Jessica’s contact information - she’s in Jackson County, but she can get you in touch with the coordinator for your area.
Children's Service Specialist
Jackson County Children's Division
615 E. 13th St. Kansas City, MO 64106
Molly Beale is the owner/ operator of Molly Beale Photography, specializing in photographing seniors and families in the Kansas City and St. Joseph, MO areas. She lives in Edgerton, MO with her husband Randy, son Thomas, and dog Chet the a-hole.