Each visit to City of Refuge opens my eyes wider to the realities of life less than 6 miles from my front door. In a zip code with the highest crime, high school dropout, teen pregnancy, and unemployment rates in the state of Georgia, City of Refuge is a safe-haven in the middle of it - breaking the cycle of poverty in the lives of people who have never known otherwise. It is not only humbling to me personally to hear their stories, it is an honor to provide the gift of dignity to these young moms using a talent God has given me. Through professional portraits, I pray these mothers feel special and celebrated - the way I did after I had my two baby girls. And when people ask me why I do this, that's my answer. Iris was no exception...
In her late-teens, Iris found herself homeless, pregnant, and abused by the father of her baby. For the sake of herself and her daughter, she knew she needed to find support and stability in the midst of a dark situation. By the grace of God, Iris landed at City of Refuge's Kindred Spirit Teen Pregnancy Home which exists to assist homeless unwed pregnant teens or pregnant teens that have limited family support in a loving, safe, Christian oriented home. Iris said "it was a blessing to come to Kindred Spirit."
She named her curly-haired baby girl "Nivarieah"...and together, they have begun a life in a safe environment with the support other families in very similar situations. As a mother, Iris plans to raise her baby girl to be "responsible, kind, sweet, happy, hardworking, and caring."
Eventually, she wants to obtain her high school diploma and go to school for Cosmetology. Iris said her life would be a success, though, if she is always a caring and nurturing mother.
All participants of Hayley Jo Photography's Giving Back program receive complimentary newborn mini sessions, digital files, and a set of prints thanks to Hayley's loyal clients (10% of all regular photo sessions help fund the program). Kindred Spirit has been providing a loving, safe, Christian oriented home for girls since 2004. To contribute financially to their work, visit their giving page (donations may be designated to the Kindred Spirit home).
Enjoy these photo highlights from our time together: