Families smile as they pose for a photograph before a wintry scene, and one little girl struggles to drag a giant teddy bear off the set for some personal play time.
It’s all part of Help Portrait, a nationwide program that offers a free photo shoot to families who can’t afford a professional portrait, and students from Suffolk University’s Journey Leadership program helped make it happen in East Boston this holiday season.
“Suffolk volunteers worked alongside the photographers to help capture that perfect, and maybe first-ever, family snapshot,” said Dave DeAngelis, director of the Office of Student Leadership & Involvement.
"There’s nothing better than seeing the joy on the faces of the children's parents as the photographers are taking the pictures,” said Jean Sine, Class of 2019. “I am glad that I was able to be part of this experience."
The University’s Journey program is a four-year leadership experience built on the cornerstones of involvement, service, career exploration, and leadership. It addresses leadership education through activities that range from swimming with manatees in Florida to meeting with innovation leaders.
“Service is one of the cornerstones of the Journey program,” said DeAngelis. “It helps leaders grow an understanding of diverse cultures and communities and learn more about social issues. It also allows them to have a positive impact on our community and make a difference in others’ lives.”
Ronny Batista, Class of 2020, said that he feels it is a privilege to help people and the community. “The two hours in East Boston truly helped me discover that I have the potential to work with kids and make them feel happy. One of the kids I played with didn't even want to go when his mom told him it was time."
Help Portrait is an annual project for the Journey students, who work with Fun Enterprises, Inc., to organize the local program, pose the families, and print and distribute the photos.
"As someone who has barely worked with kids, it was an amazing experience,” said Regina Khvan, Class of 2020. “The kids were so open to each other and to us, and I enjoyed every moment--especially when I made these little guys smile.