Main Image: Alexandra by Gavin Blue

WEEK 14 – THE 52 WEEK LOVE PROJECT

Welcome to Week 14 of The 52 Week Love Project. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration. 

The project will showcase LOVE at it’s finest, share their stories – what they do and why they do it!  It’s an opportunity for us to find out what inspires them and what keeps them going when challenges or self-doubt assail them.

MEET: Gavin – Founder of Heartfelt

This is Gavin’s motto: 

‘People always complain ‘someone should do something about this’ be the someone and do something!’

WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?

‘Our second child Alexandra was stillborn in 2006 and as you can imagine, it was absolutely devastating. ‘

The hospital photographer came and took photos, they were confronting. It was like a second shock seeing the images two weeks after it occurred. As a professional photographer, I could see there wasn’t a consideration to use soft lighting and make them look a little gentler.

We went to ‘SIDS & Kids’ for counselling and met some families that had experienced a similar trauma. Some only had a single polaroid of their baby and others had no photos at all. One mother had engaged an artist, so she could create a visual memory of her baby.  I recall meeting one mother who was so scared of forgetting what her baby looked like – I thought having beautiful gentle photos of her baby would possibly have made a difference for her.’

I thought that with my skills, being a photographer, and the contacts I have in the industry, that I could make a difference to grieving parents with photography.

WHAT DO YOU DO? 

I went looking for organisations that were offering this service in Melbourne, and initially joined an American volunteer organisation “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”.  Then I volunteered with an organization called  ACOCP – Australia Community of Child of Photographers that operated between 2007 to 2009. In 2010 a few photographers from this group joined me to create Heartfelt.  I am the founding President.  It has grown from a handful of photographers into an international organisation.

Heartfelt is totally volunteer based with professional photographers from all over Australia and New Zealand.  All dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experience stillbirth, premature birth or have children with serious and terminal illnesses. To date over 9,000 Heartfelt sessions have been provided.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU?

‘It’s easy to donate to charities, but there is something unique and very personal about being able to donate this service to a family in their darkest hour.  I am so inspired to use my professional skill to create something that makes a difference to people and their grieving.’

HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?

The messages we receive from the parents who have used the service inspire me to continue to grow this organisation.

Beautiful precious moments with our babies, you capture forever – a gift to a stranger in their darkest moments. That IS HEARTFELT! When our baby was stillborn, I feared I would in time forget her. I wanted to hang on to every moment and absorb every detail of her soft skin, beautiful face, ten perfect fingers, ten perfect toes, her huge feet and hands, and how tall and gorgeous she was. In October this year, late one Friday night, Gavin Blue drove two hours in the rain to donate his time and talents in order to photograph our precious stillborn baby girl – capturing memories that we will cherish forever.

“I just wanted to send you an email to let you know how grateful we are for what you did for us. I would never have imagined exactly how much comfort these photos would bring me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

 “WOW! Thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts for these incredible photos.  We love them all and are absolutely blown away.  We just sat here together and watched the slideshow over and over and over again and cried together.  We are so sincerely appreciative and happy that you have been able to capture James and create life long memories for us.  One of my fears was that I would forget what he would look like and now this will never happen.  James will always be in our hearts and our family and now we have some amazing photos to treasure and remember him through. Thank you Kate, we are forever grateful and will always cherish what you have done for us.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE/CHANGE IN THE WORLD?

‘If it’s a service you would like to set up,  I suggest make it about the service and not about you and look for duplications of the service. Ask yourself is there something out there that you can add to rather than duplicating a service.’

DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY? 

‘People always complain ‘someone should do something about this’ be the someone and do something!’

‘Just Do it’.

gavin - heartfelt

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

Sometimes when families raise larger donations we look at what projects we can establish to support families experiencing stillbirth and the loss of a child.

One project we created is the camera project. We found that a lot of the hospitals didn’t have a quality camera. Sometimes when the window of opportunity for a session is too small and we can’t get a Heartfelt photographer there, we wanted to give the hospital options of being able to take their own photos. Camera kits are available to sponsor, to date Heartfelt has provided 165 camera kits to hospitals across Australia.

We have a number of other projects, have at look at our website to read about them: here

HOW CAN OTHERS HELP/GET INVOLVED?

We are totally funded by community donations and to a much lesser extent, membership fees (5%). Each session costs $65 to deliver even with the donated services of our members and currently we are looking after about 150 families a month.

Families and members often have fundraisers and here is a current one where I am running the Berlin Marathon for Heartfelt and the Stillbirth Foundation. More details: here 

You can also donate:  here

Visit our Website: here

Follow us on Facebook: here

We are always looking for photographers with the skill and heart to provide this service – if you or someone you know are interested in getting involved, please get in touch.  find out more: here 

 

Please join our mailing list for the  ‘The 52 Week Love Project‘ and we will hit your inbox each week with the story of an inspirational game changer … Sign Up: Here!

 

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