Fifty-one people were treated to professional portrait photography sessions on Saturday at the Kitsap Rescue Mission. It was the second annual Help-Portrait event held in Bremerton, a nationwide effort designed to give folks a chance to get professional portraits in a pampered setting that would otherwise be out of reach.
“Help-Portrait is about giving,” said Jackie Carden, one of the organizers of the event. “This holiday season, we were able to lift someone’s spirit, to pamper them, to give them something beautiful, a portrait of themselves, a lasting memory.”
Dave Raley, Jomer Siasat, Josh Diamond and several other photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists and friends gathered a group of 25-plus volunteers to help out on Saturday. In addition to the Kitsap Rescue Mission, the Bremerton Salvation Army also helped out.
Some of the folks who showed up Saturday also came last year.
“They were here last year, loved the experience and came back again to get the portraits,” Carden said.
Stacy Layne Bergsma volunteered as a host and was also struck by seeing some of the same faces as last year.
“I feel that we are creating a bond that will only grow from year to year, not only with each other but with the people who came through the door,” she said. “I left on Saturday with a huge smile on my face.”
Makeup artist Sarah Ralston shared one of several moving stories from Saturday’s sessions about a woman who began to cry while Ralston was doing her makeup.
“She had never been to a salon or had anyone do her hair and makeup,” Ralston said. “She was so touched by the whole experience and it brought her to tears.”
Ralston said another woman recognized her from last year’s event.
“She told me how she had really wanted to get some makeup from Mary Kay last year, but she just couldn’t find the money,” Ralston said. “I happened to have some brand new Mary Kay make up that was her color so I gave it to her after using it to apply her makeup. She asked how much she owed me and when I told her nothing, she told me what a blessing this event was to her and how we all have touched their lives.
The woman, Ralston added, has the photos from last year still hanging in her house and brought a friend to this year’s event.
Dawn Tessman Visser volunteered Saturday as a photo editor and said it was an amazing experience.
“We edited and printed a bazillion photos,” she said. “My heart strings were tugged so many times today. It was so wonderful to see people near tears when they saw their framed prints!”
Visser said she, too, was close to tears of joy throughout the day.
“I loved this experience and I know it meant so much to those who received their portraits,” she said.