Sneak Peek : The Phoenix Project

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A few years ago I was fortunate to be able to participate in the launch of Go Mighty, an awesome website created around setting goals and finding your team to cheer you on, provide support and share in your success. If you’re a longtime reader, you already know what happened next, but for any of you who are new, here’s the short version. I posted the goal of “Capturing the Essence of Motherhood” in a photograph, and was lucky enough to be selected by Olay, who then sponsored this goal. The next few months were a whirlwind, as I worked to complete my project in time. I was thrilled when I reached my goal, and my elation was only elevated when I found out that Olay would be donating a sum of money in my name to a charity of my choosing, to celebrate the completion of this project.

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While I’m involved in several charitable organizations in my area, I wanted to make sure this money would specifically be supporting women and mothers, as that’s what the goal was all about. In keeping with that idea, I chose the Willow Domestic Violence Center as the recipient. The Willow is located in Lawrence, Kansas, and I was a women’s and children’s advocate there from 2000-2004, assisting women and children who were recovering from domestic violence and/or living in the Willow Center’s shelter. It was heartbreaking work, but there I learned what real love, joy and recovery looks like. It was glorious, and I knew there was no better recipient for my grant from Olay.

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In the years since, the incredible staff at the Willow Center have stayed in touch, and we often talked about working together on a community art project to raise awareness of domestic violence and money for the center. I’m so proud and excited to share that this project is finally HAPPENING!

The Phoenix Project will be launching in the spring of 2015, and is so much more than one single event. It is about archiving the stories of female survivors of domestic violence, through art, writing, storytelling and many more mediums. The Phoenix Project is about giving a platform to women who have been silenced, and listening to their voices. It’s about recovery, and rising from the ashes of pain and horror into something new.

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I am so honored and humbled to have been asked to participate in this project, and document the beauty and strength of these survivors. Last week I did a portrait session with several volunteers, brave women who want to show their faces and tell their stories in order to help others. As I photographed these amazing ladies, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this opportunity to capture their courageous spirits and share a piece of them with all of you. As the project launches, several of these portraits will be posted along with the women’s stories at the Phoenix Project website. I encourage you to visit and read them with open hearts.

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I will be passing on more information soon on how to purchase art pieces, such as prints of some of these images, which are included in the Phoenix Project. 90% of the proceeds from the sale of these prints will go to the Willow. The Willow Domestic Violence Center fields upwards of 1600 crisis calls and referral calls per year, houses 250-300 women and children annually, runs adult and child support groups, and offers services and public education in Douglas, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties.

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You guys, this is why I do what I do. I’m a storyteller, and I understand the importance of having a place to share your story, and the priceless value of our stories as women and survivors. It’s such a gift to be able to help give these incredible women a platform and to be able to share them with all of you.

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