Mercy Corps NW calls the Community Investment Trust “a first-of-its kind financial inclusion tool created to empower residents and strengthen communities.” Through a process of learning investment basics, residents of the surrounding neighborhood invest a lower-dollar amount each month and build toward collective ownership of the commercial retail mall.
"If you can help one person, it has an enormous impact not just on them, but on their family."
The Social Justice Collaborative is a nonprofit law office in Oakland, CA specializing in serving immigrants and their families. They provide representation in immigration hearings, particularly in asylum cases. The Social Justice Collaborative believes firmly in the universal need for high quality legal representation, regardless of an individual's immigration status or financial situation.
"Americans must do charitable work. This country gives all who live here so much opportunity, and so it is the duty of everyone to give back to others."
The Islamic Cultural Center is a community organization in Oakland dedicated to cultivating an exchange of ideas about Islam through art, culture, and education programs. Social responsibility is a core value, and we joined them for a day of distributing sleeping bags to homeless individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area
SMART pairs adult volunteers with elementary school students for one-on-one reading sessions. This simple concept is in operation in 267 schools (and other educational sites) in Oregon. They provide supportive, joyful reading time with the student, not as reading instruction but rather as a chance to engage with books the students find interesting and in a supportive environment.
Every week people walk through our doors for the first time, looking for short-term help through a difficult time.
DenUM (Denver Urban Matters) provides essential services to vulnerable populations in Denver, Colorado. We visited their food bank as one of our first projects as Another Look, and were invited back to capture client and staff portraits, as well as candid images of people interacting and shopping at the food bank.
“PEOPLE DON’T IMAGINE THESE GUYS WHEN THEY THINK ABOUT ‘LIFERS.’ THEY HAVE TRANSFORMED THEMSELVES LONG BEFORE THEY GOT OUT.”
UnCommon Law is a nonprofit law firm in Oakland, CA, that represents men and women who are serving life sentences to assist in their parole process. The organization has represented 140 clients to successful release, and in a society beset by high recidivism rates, not a single one of these man and women have returned to prison.
“I WAS IN AND OUT OF PRISON A COUPLE OF TIMES BEFORE, AND HOUSING WAS ALWAYS THE DIFFERENCE. YOU GET OUT AND GO BACK TO WHAT YOU KNOW. YOU NEED PRO-SOCIAL SUPPORT. HERE THERE’S A NETWORK, A PLACE TO LIVE, AND COMMUNITY.”
Sponsors is a reentry program that provides housing, job support, counseling, and other services to individuals returning to Eugene after being incarcerated. Since 1973 they have served thousands of people, and have made an enormous difference in the community.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING BRINGS KIDS INTO NEW AND EXCITING CONTEXTS, FOSTERS INTELLECTUAL ENGAGEMENT, AND EMPOWERS YOUNG PEOPLE TO EXPAND THEIR HORIZONS.
Call of the Sea is an educational nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay area that seeks to teach and engage students through sailing. Onboard the Seward, students engage with science, math, history, and ecology as they sail around the San Francisco Bay.
“THIS HAPPENED SO FAST. I WAS WORKING HARD. BUT I WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION AND THINGS JUST FELL APART.”
Senior Support Services is Denver's only day center for homeless and extremely low-income senior citizens in Denver. They offer free meals, food and clothing banks, access to computers, and support in searching for housing and medical care. We visited for a Sunday lunch just after Christmas. There was snow on the ground, and nighttime temperature was well below dangerous for folks sleeping outside. By providing hot, healthy meals and a safe place for people to spend their days, SSS helps homeless and hungry elderly in Denver maintain better health and dignity.
“I SEE FAMILY SEPARATION ALL THE TIME. IT REALLY IMPACTS PEOPLE. I NEVER WANT TO SEE A FAMILY GET TORN APART. EVERYONE IS HUMAN.”
Casa de Paz offers free housing and support for families and recently released detainees at the immigration detention center in Aurora, Colorado. The founder, Sarah Jackson, opens her home to families visiting the detention center, arranges volunteers to visit detainees, and provides housing, meals, and supplies to recent detainees. In short, Casa de Paz is providing the most basic essentials—housing, food, and company—to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people there are.
"IT'S AN INCREDIBLE THING TO HAVE GOOD PEOPLE HERE, JUST HELPING OUT. THEY DON'T JUDGE. AND GETTING THIS STUFF MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE."
After Hours is an alternative church group that, among other things, offers sandwiches every day for Denver's homeless. Christmas in the Park is the same idea on a much grander scale--over 600 volunteers spent Christmas Day distributing sleeping bags, winter coats, socks, shoes, gloves, toys, diapers, and more to homeless individuals and families. This was the 8th annual Christmas in the Park, and each year has grown in energy, attendance, and in donated items.
THERE IS A REMARKABLE COMMON THREAD RUNNING THROUGH MERCY CORPS NORTHWEST PROJECTS...
"Picturing Mercy Corps Northwest" is a collection of portraits and profiles of Mercy Corps Northwest clients from their projects around Portland: the garden project with refugees; the reentry transition center for former inmates; a business class for women in prison; and recipients of support for low-income entrepreneurs, including classes, loans, and matching IDA grants. Each of these individuals provides a window into MCNW's work and commitment to creative and empowering solutions to pressing concerns of inclusion and equity on a local level.
"I'VE BEEN A VOLUNTEER FOR NINE YEARS AND AN EMPLOYEE FOR TWO DAYS. THIS PLACE IS REALLY DOING THE WORK IT HAS SET OUT TO DO. THE PASSION AND PURPOSE ARE CLEAR."
Free Geek is a electronics recycling program serving Portland and the surrounding areas. Over 300 volunteers work in their warehouse each month, sorting donated electronics into reusable, repairable, or recyclable components. Thousands of computers are refurbished by volunteer labor, and after 24 hours of volunteering, individuals "adopt" a free computer to take and use forever. Free Geek ensures that massive quantities of electronics are properly recycled, that reusable goods are repaired, and that members of the community are empowered to use and own computers. Over 20,000 volunteers have passed through their doors over 15 years.
Ventura Park Elementary has a 75% English Language Learner student population. The school is working hard to become a community center for newcomer families and to provide excellent services to their students. Their two-week summer reading program used interactive activities, partner reading, coaching, and dynamic class time to engage and inspire students. We joined them for a field trip to the downtown Portland library.
"IN THE PAST I'VE BEEN A POOR INFLUENCE ON MY CHILDREN, BUT NOW I CAN SAY, 'LOOK WHAT I'VE DONE, KIDS! LOOK HOW I'VE CHANGED!'" - JACKIE
The Mercy Corps Reentry Transition Center (RTC) serves individuals who are reentering the Portland community after serving time in prison or jail. They provide essential services such as housing and employment support, a clothing bank, and vocational training. The RTC was honored as the Featured Service Provider at the National Conference for the Unitarian Universalist Church in June 2015. We were asked to record clients' stories and provide portraits as part of the event.
AS WE TOURED DENUM FROM TOP FLOOR TO BASEMENT, WE OBSERVED THE ORGANIZATION'S MANY SERVICES, FROM COMPUTER ACCESS TO UTILITY BILL ASSISTANCE AND FREE ESSENTIALS, INCLUDING DIAPERS AND FRESH PRODUCE.
Denver Urban Matters (DenUM) provides Denver's low income and homeless families and individuals with critical services from emergency food to utilities assistance, employment services, legal consultation, and referrals to other services. We were asked to photograph the bustle of a normal Friday in the DenUM case management offices and food bank space, as well as taking portraits of clients, volunteers, and staff.