By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A new organization is giving parents of sick children the gift of photography. The Tiny Light Foundation, formed in November by former Cardiff resident Mellissa DePape and Morinville resident Billie Depatie, seeks out photographers from across Canada who volunteer their time and talents to provide professional photos of children who have been diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition.
Since starting two months ago, the two photographers have assembled a team of 14 photographers from Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Co-founder Billie Depatie said DePape, who now resides in Chilliwack, B.C., came up with the concept. “Mellissa was part of another program like it based out the States,” Depatie said. “She has a daughter who has Down ’s syndrome. She’s also a photographer. Her reasoning behind doing it is that she knows how stressful and how costly a child’s medical issues can be. So she thought why not offer these families free photos because a lot of families don’t think of getting photos. That’s the last thing on their mind when they have a sick child. If the child was terminally ill, they would at least have these photos, these professional photos, to look back on.”
There is no cost to the families for the photographer’s session and the Tiny Light Foundation photographers will go to the family’s home, the hospital or wherever the child is located. The photographers are expected to provide families with at least a 30-minute photo shoot, taking images of both the child and the family. The family is then provided with 10 to 15 digital files, allowing them to have the photos printed wherever they like.
Depatie said although no child will be turned down, they ask that families wishing to have photo sessions fill out an application online so the organization can understand the family’s situation and where in the country they are located.
“We search out the photographer, we find the photographer, then the photographer will get hold of the family,” Depatie said, adding the organization requires their photographers to get in touch with the family within two weeks and to provide the digital files within two weeks of the photo session.
To date, the organization has done approximately six sessions, but there are at least ten sessions set for the near future. Response from the families who have been given the free sessions has been overwhelmingly positive, Depatie said.
“They’re so grateful that they’re getting these sessions at no cost,” she said. “They have enough worries with everything else. They’re just ecstatic that somebody actually wants to do that for them and offer them free photo sessions.”
Families interested in having a photo session done or photographers interested in participating in the program can visit The Tiny Light Foundation online at www.thetinylight.com.