Tyler Junior College is getting involved in a project to help foster children. It's called the "Heart Gallery." We told you about the project a couple months ago. Photographers across the country, including here in East Texas, are working for free taking professional portraits of foster children. This traveling exhibit raises awareness of foster children and adoption. In this Gift of Love report, we visit a TJC photography class as they tell a foster child's story through pictures.
Nine year old Joseph, or Joey as he's called, practices his smile. He's about to get his portrait taken. Tamara Haynes, at Tyler Junior College, is the one behind the camera. She's teaching her class how to tell this foster child's story without speaking a word.
"If it's done correctly it can really not just show their image but it can say a lot about their personality and the way they deal with objects around them and just the way they look at life," says Tamara.
One of Joey's favorite objects comes on four wheels. "I like to play with my cars."
"He's a hot wheels fanatic. In fact, when we leave here we have to go buy 2 hot wheels. One red and one blue," says Kathy Myers his Child Protective Services caseworker.
Joey was removed from his home because of chronic neglect. As a result, he is quiet around strangers. Kathy says, "He needs to feel needed. He really does and if you show him that you care and that you're interested in what he has to say, then he kind of warms up to you faster."
Joey was placed in foster care with his two sisters. They have since been adopted. He is now in counseling dealing with the stress of losing first his parents and now his siblings. "It was real hard on Joseph. He got to thinking that if his behavior got better they'd come back and get him," says Kathy.
Joey would do best in a family that is patient, consistent and willing to spend one-on-one time with this loving young boy. He needs a family that can work through his past, seeing his true spirit, as the camera captured today.
Joey needs a lot of attention but more importantly, a lot of love. Kathy says, "He can bring a lot of joy. He's a light. He just makes you glow when you see him. Sometimes Joey just touches your heart. He's got that soft smile about him."
If you'd like to know more about Joey call our Gift of Love hotline. The toll free number is 1-888-kids-275.
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