Photographer encourages San Jose kids to capture dreams

SAN JOSE, Calif.

The Family Supportive Housing Shelter in San Jose is maybe the last place most of us might expect to find young, budding artists. It is a sanctuary, plain and simple, or a temporary home of last resort.

"They lose a job, get evicted from their house. Some people are running from domestic violence," said Beth Leary, the executive director of the center.

And in this place, they are people with children. Many of them have children who have never dared to hope or have dreams.

One child said, "I hope to see my mom happy with another man."

Another said, "I hope to ride a bike. I hope for a dog."

Getting them to write down and voice those hopes was almost impossible until photographer Linda Solomon arrived.

"They're so unselfish. They always hope for a home of their own. They hope for a sister to be healthy, they hope for a mother to smile again," said Solomon.

Solomon seems to be a transformed photographer. Her mission now is to visit shelters like this across the county and ask kids to photograph those hopes and dreams.

"One little boy said, 'I hope to live past 32.' I don't know where he came up with that and how he captured it is so unusual. He photographed a jersey with that had number 32 on it," said Solomon.

The pictures the children take become greeting cards that then raise money for these shelters. The photos are raw and transparent: a dream to end world hunger, to make a difference, to go to college, a dream to help other homeless kids.

"They're just like everybody else, but yet they've got the values together because all of their wishes are for things that truly matter," said Solomon.

So, one day last September. Solomon introduced the group to the concept of a camera and then gave one to each of them. Just holding the cameras in their hands empowered these children.

"It's like a treasure hunt. Each time you capture your dream, you just cross it off your list," said Solomon.

Andreas took a picture of books in the library, he says, "because I want to be a reader, too."

Danielle photographed a globe "because I put on my list to go everywhere."

Lytzy Avalos of one word. She said, "I took a picture of 'believe' because that represents that you should always believe in yourself, and not what people say."

There are hopes and dreams so revealing and surprising, even to their parents. Cynthia Duran is a mother of one of the children.

Duran: It's interesting to know what she's dreaming of.
Freedman: She didn't tell you?
Duran: No.
Freedman: What surprised you about this list?
Duran: Meeting Jennifer Lopez.

Two and a half months later, it's probably safe to say that dream of meeting Jennifer Lopez hasn't come true. However, a lot of dreams have come true for most of these kids. A lot are out of the housing shelter and they have permanent homes. They did, however, get together for one last formality.

The young artists got to see their finished cards, their hopes and dreams on paper. Dreams are revealed out of despair to a vision through a lens and greeting cards.

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