Athens Photography Project student Glenna Parry snaps a shot of a snowy yard.
Photo courtesy of: Glenna Parry, APP
Dec 6, 2012
By Kristen Spicker
Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, the Ohio University community is participating in United Appeal's "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" fundraising campaign. Through this editorial series, Compass seeks to highlight some of the community agencies that will benefit from OHIO's giving.
People find solace in different activities. From working out, listening to music or taking a quiet bubble bath, everyone has a way of clearing their mind and escaping the stress of every day.
The Athens Photography Project aims to provide that peace of mind to people who suffer from mental disorders. Started by Elise Sanford in 1999, the 10-week photography classes focus on helping people with mental disabilities recover while expressing themselves creatively.
The classes not only give students a sense of empowerment and self-worth, but debunks society's stereotypes of people with mental illnesses through expositions of the students' work.
The organization also raises awareness of mental disabilities in Athens, Hocking and Vinton counties, partnering with other nonprofits, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
With classes quickly filling up and waiting lists growing, the Athens Photography Project hopes that the awareness and money raised through the United Appeal's "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" campaign will help the organization meet its demands. Director of the Athens Photography Project and Ohio University alumnus Nate Thompson recently spoke with Compass about the agency, its mission, and the invaluable support of the OHIO community.
How does the organization connect with the community?
Elise Sanford saw the need in the mental health community for people with mental illnesses to affirm a positive self-identity. Because this is a group that has been historically marginalized based on their health condition, she saw a need to empower this group.
We also work with different organizations in Athens. The Dairy Barn provides our classroom space, as we needed to expand at no cost. The Market on State provides our gallery space at no cost.
What kind of services does the organization provide?
We provide photography classes as a component of mental health recovery. Even though they receive clinical care, often that supportive bridge of rebuilding a meaningful life isn't there. We believe that they should still feel like their perspective matters and that they can find some way to contribute to the community.
What type of connection does the Athens Photography Project have with Ohio University?
We bring in photographers from Ohio University. We typically have 10 photographers that are involved in our program as volunteers, assisting and sharing in class their love of photography. By bringing in student photographers, we're able to keep an arts environment that fully integrates our artists and helps the community come together.
We also have several individuals on our board of directors from the University. Our board president is the Director of Visual Communication Terry Eiler.
How would donations from the United Appeal campaign help your organization?
They would go directly toward our classes and class materials and supplies. That's one area where we need the most support. We have over 35 artists in our program each week and about 25 on an unsolicited waiting list. Bringing more funds in is what I think will help us open the door to more individuals.
United Appeal's "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" fundraising campaign runs through Dec. 24. For more information, visit http://www.unitedappeal.org.
Payroll deduction offers an easy way to support United Appeal's local partners throughout the calendar year.
For those who authorize it on the United Appeal pledge form, payroll deductions will be taken out of paychecks beginning Jan. 1. This will be done on a semi-monthly basis, per the University's new pay cycle.
Click here to download a United Appeal pledge form.
Check out the links below to learn more about some of the organizations benefitting from this year's United Appeal fundraising campaign:
My Sister's Place provides safe haven for victims of relationship abuse
*Additional United Appeal spotlights will appear in Compass throughout the campaign.
Athens County Food Pantry