"Give a voice to the voiceless."
At that point in my life — a rising senior in college — my ambitions were high and my sense of reality low. To me, "the voiceless" were people in third world countries, tucked away in tiny villages or war-ravaged cities. It was their stories that I thought needed the most telling. (Really, any story far from my hometown was one worth telling.)
But these days, as I make my hometown my home once again, I'm finding that the voiceless aren't so far away, and they have powerful stories to share. Stories of loneliness, loss, love, regret — and through it all, unyielding hope and faith.
When I first presented my Hands project to the Rescue Mission, I had no idea how things would unfold. After all, why should anyone share their story with a stranger? But what I've discovered is a community of people longing to spend time with someone who will listen, someone who cares enough to learn about their mistakes, their fears and their dreams.
To those of you who have shared my project so far, I can't thank you enough. No matter your circumstance, I believe that when read closely, these stories resonate with everyone. They deserve to be heard.
I also encourage everyone to learn about how the Rescue Mission serves the Roanoke Valley.
This week, I launched the website for my latest photojournalism endeavor, Project Hands. Many of the stories come from guests of the Rescue Mission, a comprehensive homeless shelter in Roanoke. Check it out at StoriesWeHold.com.