Joplin Smile + Midwest Photographers help during devastation


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July 13, 2011

Joplin Smile + Midwest Photographers help during devastation






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World travelin’, sustainability guru, humanitarian, foster and adoptive mommin’, photographer, photobooth-er, educator, multiple hat wearing entrepreneur. This girl’s love language is hugs and her tank is filled by serving others. You can find her under a palm tree, on a mountain, renovating a vintage trailer/house or running through the sprinklers with her husband, two boys and three fur babies.

I am so proud of the photographers in the Mid-west. For those of you not aware, Joplin Missouri, a pretty large city very close to what we call home here in Kansas City, was hit by a tremendously large tornado on May 22, 2011.  Their lives came to an immediate stop, losing 30% of their city. This tornado was so damaging, it became known as one of the worst destructive tornadoes this country has ever seen, making headlines every day for weeks. “The death toll from the tornado that crushed Joplin has risen to 117,  making it the deadliest such event in the U.S. since 1953.” –LA Times

It’s a terrible site to see, and painful knowing that these families and businesses have been completely wiped away from them. My brother and a crew of his friends have been down to visit and many of our church members went down in groups to help pick up rubble, sort through things, search for missing loved ones, and when they returned, there were just limited words that could even come out of their mouths. Tragedy and grace were two words I heard a lot. Yes, the trees were twigs, with metal from cars, wrapped through what was left of the branches, children were missing, animals hurt, people in pain, property destroyed…. but what a beautiful site, to see a community come together, stand up and work together to get what needs to be done, done, and help someone else in need. I heard nothing but great stories about the PEOPLE of Joplin. Churches, who also lost everything, were driving around in trucks handing out watermelons to the people who needed food, and the helpers that were there, pastors were taking lists of food and “needs” from individuals so that they could bring it back to them that day. People were forgetting about their own things, and helping others who needed it more. Hugs were everywhere. And after seeing how incredible the people of Joplin are, and being here, thinking about how it would feel if I were in their shoes, losing my memories-my photos of my life, losing my possessions-the things I worked so hard for and more, us midwest photographers decided we wanted to make a difference.
This is where Project Joplin Smile comes in.

When I meet with my clients, I always ask them: “If your house were to burn down tomorrow, what would be the one or two things you would grab to have forever?” One of the answers is ALWAYS their photographs. It’s how we are remembered. It’s our memories, our legacy, and without photos, we can’t relive those moments that made us laugh till it hurts, or even remember the people that were so important to us.

So the incredible photographers of the mid-west have decided to volunteer in the fall, head to Joplin after plenty of time for locals to find housing/settle back in a bit, and we are going to capture family portraits for multiple families, for free.

What a neat and humbling thing to be a part of. Our mission: We have hopes of giving these fearful families something they thought they could never get back. Their legacies.. and their stories. And if we spend half of the shoot times hugging, embracing and talking about their story or to just show some love… Then it will have exceeded my expectations for what we had set our hearts to do there. Or to just give in any way that comes to us. Maybe I need to be a set of ears to listen, or even share how God has been so good in my life in devastating times. Not everyone is strong and can build, or financially support, but giving genuine time and support and to give such an important and passionate gift to them, has been rewarding and nothing but a blessing in such a disaster.

Myself, my friend Darbi G, and Sarah are scheduled for Oct 13th, 2011 from 8:00am-4:00pm if you would like to book a session with us three.

To learn more, to see if  YOU or a LOVED ONE is eligible for a photo session, or to even help support from home, by purchasing a t-shirt, visit the Joplin Smiles website. Also come check us out on our  Facebook Page. If you  would like to donate financially, contact me and I will let you know how you can do it.

See the story that Channel 5, from KC, told by clicking here.


Here are the wonderful photographers from the local areas volunteering to help. {See image below}

Jana Marie Photography {me}

Dustin Stellar Photography

Darbi G Photography


Sarah Dickerson Photography

Anne Cannon Photography

CMR Photography

Denise Williams Photography

Image 24 Photography

Photography by Angelique

Ashley Turner Photography

Center Stage Photography

JW Photography

Lollipop Photography

Morgan Memories Photography

Art and Soul Photography

Magic Memories Photography

Fantasma Imagery

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