I am so honored to be named Project Place’s volunteer of the year, but frankly the people we need to be honoring are the staff at Project Place and the clients who work so hard to get a second chance at life. I love being able to help tell the story of all the good that is done at Project Place and I hope to keep doing it for years to come. The world is a far better place because of the work they do there.
It was over 5 years ago that I first set foot in Project Place. I was there to give a staff member’s daughter a photography lesson. After the lesson she told me a little bit about Project Place and I was so impressed I told her if they ever needed photos to just call me. So when Project Place needed new stock photos I was happy to oblige.
The shoot fell on a bitterly cold morning in 2013, 11 degrees with a wind chill of -2. I met up with some of the Clean Corners guys while they were tending to the area around the Holocaust memorial and Fenway. My fingers were freezing cold but my heart was warmed when I saw first hand what Project Place is really about. Rather than grumbling about the cold, the Clean Corners crew members had smiles on their faces and expressed how genuinely happy they were just to have a job and to have found Project Place. One of the clients told me that jail time didn’t help him become a better person. It actually made him worse. Project Place is what has made him a good person. It gave him all the tools he needed to make a positive change in his life.
Then I went back to Project Place to photograph Home Plate preparing and serving a delicious hot lunch and to get shots of the clients hard at work in computer classrooms and practice interview sessions. Everywhere I turned there were clients happy to share their story of how Project Place had saved their life. They went from incarcerated to inspired, from homeless to hopeful. Project Place had given them so much more than a handout, it gave them the ability to move forward as productive members of society. I saw clients who had become more proficient with PowerPoint and Microsoft Word than most college graduates. The staff was so patient, encouraging, and caring with the clients. No client question or concern goes unaddressed.
That day I was so incredibly impressed by Project Place’s embodiment of the old proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” After seeing what a massive difference Project Place makes in Boston I wanted to do whatever I could to help further their mission. So I continue to volunteer my services.