I recently had the honor of photographing a fundraising event for a wonderful non-profit who works in Arlington & Alexandria, Virgina. Offender Aid & Restoration, or OAR, works with past offenders prior to and after their release from the criminal justice system. They do wonderful work in our community & I was excited to be a part of their most recent event.
OAR aims to “…blend compassion and accountability to assist offenders in leading productive and responsible lives, to the benefit of all,” and they “…envision a safe and thriving community where those impacted by the criminal justice system enjoy equal civil and human rights.” What a noble mission & vision for our community. You know that if an organization’s event draws the participation of the Governor, it must be special!
I’ve had the honor of meeting with several representatives from OAR, and what I love about talking with them is their passion for what they do is so evident, it shines through. That’s how they are able to impact so many with the work they do. They truly care about the individuals they are helping & about the overall benefit their assistance brings to our community.
At the fundraising breakfast, I had the opportunity to hear speeches given by several of the folks OAR has helped. They were able to speak in front of a group of over 600 people (no small feat!) to express how OAR has changed their lives for the better. Representatives from OAR met with them starting six weeks before their release in order to establish their goals. Once they were released, OAR assisted them with setting up their lives – everything from taking them shopping, arranging a hotel room & community service opportunities, to setting up doctors appointments & job interviews.
I got to hear about OAR’s success rate & how many of those they’ve helped have gone on to become happy, productive, contributing members of society. Their speeches were overwhelmingly inspirational & heartwarming. And as a result, I can personally attest to how difficult it is to use a camera with tears welling up in your eyes!