From Bright Lights to Clean Drinking Water

By Marianne J. Dupre

 

How does a high-fashion photo of a sassy senior quench the thirst of a child in a remote Cambodian village? Through the extraordinary talents of Compassionate Eye Foundation’s volunteer creative community that rallies for a good cause.

In February 2015, a group of stylish women, ages 60 through 85, was the muse for CEF’s Advanced Style shoot in Toronto. “We set out to produce a fashion series, not a fashion series for ‘older’ women,” explained fashion photographer and CEF volunteer John van der Schilden. “We wanted our shoot to be about their spirit and personal style. In our minds, we created distinct characters who didn’t allow conventional thinking about aging to dictate their outlook on fashion.”  

Model Penelope Goranson reveled in her moment under the bright lights. “It was like I’d died and gone to heaven,” said the self-professed “sassy” one of the group. “All those clothes, jewelry, scarves – my cup of tea!” Her images from the shoot have now appeared in Zoomer, People, InStyle, Money, and Travel and Leisure magazines.

 

 

Vicki Schelstraete, another CEF photographer working on the shoot, agreed. “They were all so excited to be a part of a shoot where they were celebrated for their age,” she said. “For our 85-year ‘young’ model in particular, it was her first-time modeling, exemplifying that you’re never too old to try something new. Her spirit, energy and sense of fun were incredibly contagious, and John captured it all.”

 

On the other side of John’s camera is an equally energetic verve in Adrianne Dartnall and Rick Lennert, the founders of KIDS International, an organization that benefits from stock photo royalties generated from shoots like the Advanced Style series. A partner for five years, KIDS International is among a number of CEF charitable partners who devote their resources to helping developing nations thrive.

Every year, Adrianne and Rick travel to Cambodia for a four-month stay. “We’ve always gone to Cambodia,” said Adrianne. “It captured our hearts – so many people had lost children and families due to civil war.”

The KIDS partnership with CEF has enabled Adrianne and Rick to accomplish a growing list of projects that includes building and repairing floating schools and health clinics, sponsoring children to go to school, and establishing clean drinking water systems.  

On the first drinking water system they built, Adrianne noted how lethargic they had originally found the children to be. “We designed a clean drinking water system and worked with local builders to make it happen,” she explained.” Today, 5,500 children and families have access to clean drinking water, and the difference in their well-being is noticeable. “It’s amazing. The children are more energetic, and happy. It’s wonderful seeing them come up to the tap and drink as much water as they can and not be sick.”

Adrianne and Rick are always eager to talk about their travels, projects and successes. ““We tell stories, and people want to be a part of it,” said Rick. “What we really like about CEF is that we’re partners. They allocate funds and we apply them to a particular project.” In describing their work, he added, “We write what we see. We incorporate hope, heart, and making a difference with a line of humour – that’s our formula.”

The formula works. Penelope Goranson was excited to learn more about photos royalties supporting KIDS International. “If my picture is helping in any way, I am absolutely thrilled. If you get a chance, send them all a hug and all my love.”

 

Celebrating the life of John Baigent, one of CEF’s amazing partners!

 

 

John Baigent, Founder of Partners in the Horn of Africa died at the beginning of December 2016 in Enderby, B.C. JB

For many years before I was involved in Compassionate Eye Foundation, I was a labour lawyer in both Alberta and British Columbia. Starting in 1980, I worked in this profession and got to know many other lawyers doing similar work. One name I learned early in my work life was John Baigent. John was a renowned figure in the labour law field and in the labour movement, creating an impressive reputation as the leading practitioner in Western Canada.

I never ran across John on a case, however, as shortly after I moved to Vancouver in 1990, John moved to Enderby B.C. to carry on his practice and to fly fish. He moved there because he could—his clients would seek him out.

Eventually, John stopped practicing and returned to his true love—Africa and community development in Ethiopia. John had a vision of building schools, footbridges, and wells and generally helping people in rural Ethiopia improve their lives. John started Partners in the Horn of Africa and, through his sheer force of nature and persistence, turned it into a $1 million per year organization that changed the lives of Ethiopians, particularly young girls and young women.

John cajoled and persuaded dozens of his former compatriots and adversaries to donate thousands and thousands of dollars to his cause and John was the volunteer Executive Director for the first 12 years at Partners in the Horn of Africa. He travelled to Ethiopia at least once a year to meet communities and oversee operations, then would come home and personally raise the funds for the projects he had promised to the locals.

I got to know John when I became a monthly donor to Partners in the Horn, and was inspired by his energy and passion. He was clearly my inspiration to get involved in the Compassionate Eye Foundation. I could see through his example that my skill set could be useful in helping others in faraway places.

After I joined the Board of CEF, I introduced Partners in the Horn to CEF and, after the Board vetted the organization, we commenced to fund projects with them starting with a school in 2011. It has been a truly wonderful partnership as we have funded for a number of years a program that allows AIDS orphans to go to school. One of the great weeks of my life was spent with other Directors of CEF travelling in Ethiopia with John and Yehalem (the country director for Partners at the time). We saw the change work close up. It was amazing.

John announced a couple of years ago he was going to step aside as Executive Director. That was a difficult transition for the organization. Partners announced last year it was going to stop operating. I remember when John phoned me to tell me. I was very sad but he was clear eyed that it was time—Partners had run its course. I saw John at the 2016 AGM and he was comfortable with the decision. I didn’t know then that he would die 6 months later after a lengthy illness.

I was meeting the week before he died with a former member of the Partners’ Board. We were talking about John and this fellow said “no one I know has done more for poor people than John Baigent.” I totally agree.

A Celebration of John’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Riverside Community Hall on Trinity Valley Road, 10 km east of Enderby.

Partners in the Horn of Africa celebrated John’s achievements in its December 17 blog, and included John’s obituary.

–Dan Rogers, Chair, Compassionate Eye Foundation Board of Directors

Foster positive change by doing what you do every day

 

cef-school-behind-the-scenes-41Ten years ago Compassionate Eye Foundation was founded on the belief that by doing what you love and using your creative talent, you can have a positive impact on the world.

What started with one photo shoot in June 2006 by CEF’s founder Robert Kent, 11 of his colleagues, and a partnership with Getty Images, has grown to multiple photo shoots around the world each year. Many of these shoots involve a diverse array of photographers, as well as an entire team of talented individuals for each event. The resulting revenues from these shoots has resulted in changing the lives of people and communities for the better.
What struck Kent as an opportunity to connect what he loved to do with helping make a positive difference, has resonated with scores of people and continues to inspire. The first shoot helped to begin building a classroom in Tuixoquel, Guatemala, and began an investment in a community that continues to improve their lives and possibilities.

Since 2006, through CEF, individuals have contributed their creative talent, time, and energy to help fund health, education, and sustainable economic projects across the globe. CEF has funded projects in ten different countries over the past ten years – all made possible through the volunteers and photographers who use their creative skills to give back through CEF.cef-school-behind-the-scenes-19

“Compassionate Eye is about connecting creative professionals who do what they love with making a difference in the world,” says Kent. “It really draws people in.”

Robert Kent has also inspired professionals in other fields to volunteer their time and talents on CEF’s Board and committees. More people have come together to bring their expertise whether it is managing resources, researching and funding projects, working with the many charitable organizations involved around the world to ensure projects are funded appropriately, or getting the word out about CEF’s work and opening the door for others to be involved.

Contributing to the brain trust running the CEF are the people who arrange the creative direction, produce the shoots, and handle the post-production of the images. Creative Director Kate Stevens and Submissions Coordinator Philippa Cooper provide the professional expertise to producers and photographers so they can do their best creative work.

cef-school-behind-the-scenes-16For the tenth anniversary of CEF in June 2016, Kent returned to Vancouver to do a shoot with long-time CEF photographer, Steven Errico and producer Amy Jones.

“When I showed up for the shoot, I was blown away by all the expertise there,” says Kent. “I was able to drop in and just start doing my work. It was an incredible experience.”

The education-themed shoot generated a whopping 265 images between the two photographers! These images will be posted on Getty Images and with each purchase, will raise funds for CEF.

cef-school-behind-the-scenes-52
For Kent, CEF was the turning point where he began focusing on putting his talent to use to make a positive difference – and connecting with others with the same passion. Since then, he has gone on to start several other projects, including collaborating on a documentary film, Aloha From Lavaland, from which a percentage of its proceeds will go to CEF, and his latest endeavor: a six-day festival in Cambodia, featuring an array of creative talent, all focused on enacting creativity to create real world positive change.

CEF’s unique model enables creative professionals to use their skills to give back, while generating continuous revenue. Kent is excited to see what the next ten years holds for CEF, and believes the model has the ability to reach beyond stock photography and attract creative professionals from other industries.

“Anyone can do it – just jump in and do what you love!”

The People of CEF: Summer Jackson

Jaishree Narsih

Meet Summer Jackson, one of CEF’s fabulous volunteers.

BZ3A0137_medTell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been living and working at agencies as a professional designer in San Diego, California for over 10 years. I’ve produced and directed creative for clients such as The San Diego Zoo, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and The Arizona Biltmore. The last couple of years I’ve worked as an Art Director at Experiences for Mankind, overseeing a variety of clients such as The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, Siemens Healthcare, and LeanIn.org.

How long have you been volunteering with CEF and what is your role? How did you first get involved with CEF and what makes you want to continue volunteering with the organization?

Well, I was going to say two years but I believe it’s been a little over three! Goodness how time flies. I was introduced to CEF through my previous Creative Director Doug Moore (Hi Doug if you’re reading this! Let’s grab a beer!). At the time he had just finished updating some of the branding for the foundation and was looking for some extra hands. I was looking for a creative outlet that allowed some freedom and fell in love with the work CEF was doing. I’ve been in love ever since and although my availability has ebbed and flowed, my desire to help has never waned. I’m especially excited about this next chapter for CEF and getting to be part of their evolution and growth.

What is your favourite thing about volunteering with CEF?

Similar to the Photographers of CEF, my position as Brand Director has given me the opportunity to give back by using my skills and expertise. Although I haven’t met, in person, the majority of folks at the foundation, a good spirit flows through the veins of CEF from the people who volunteer and I’m happy to be a part of it.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I’m an avid birdwatcher. Yep, I own some killer binoculars, birding books, a Nat Geo bird app, and a walking stick. The past year I’ve attempted to take on photographing birds, which has turned me on to an interest in photography. I spotted my first eagle last year along the Oregon Coast and just about fainted from excitement. My favorite local spot to bird watch and spend time is a lake about 20 minutes from my house…and if I’m not there you can find me in Mexico eating tacos and sipping beer because I’m only about 20 minutes from the border.

Giving Tuesday: Q&A with Monashee Alonso

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Monashee Alonso -2014On the morning of December 2, this year’s Giving Tuesday, CEF Project Pillar Chair Sue Dick and photographer Monashee Alonso will be promoting the Peer Literacy Program and CEF on Global Morning News. Monashee sat down with us to answer some questions about her upcoming shoot with CEF, Giving Tuesday, and what inspires her to volunteer.

CEF: Tell us about the concept of the shoot.

Monashee: It’s a women in business concept, so the idea would be in a business location with women being the focus. Whether that means women in leadership roles, women who are mothers, women who choose not to be mothers. It’ll touch on the specifics of being a woman in the business place. There might be something like a woman bringing her child to work for the day, or dropping her kid off at day care, or power women within different roles in a company.

CEF: What would be the typical audience for this theme?

Monashee: It’s stock photography, so the end user could be anywhere from a financial institution to a blog about working mothers balancing home life and work life. But probably some of the images could be used in more than that specific sense, and used in more areas, such as a banking ad.

CEF: Have you been a part of Giving Tuesday before? What does Giving Tuesday mean to you?

Monashee: This was the first time I had heard about Giving Tuesday. Susan McDonald told me what the concept was, the idea being that after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when people are spending money on themselves and their families, they give to people out of the goodness of their heart. I think that it’s a nice idea to bring to people’s attention, to be able to give and have a day that recognizes that so that it’s brought into public consciousness. 

CEF: How and why did you become involved with CEF?

Monashee: I’ve been involved since not quite the very beginning, but close to the beginning. It was through work, so I got involved because I was working with a lot of the people who were involved. I sat on the board for a year. After that, I moved to LA and I was mostly involved as a photographer, doing some of the production. I did that in Vancouver as well, before leaving for LA.

For me, it’s always been such a great concept, because it was a natural thing for me to do and be involved in, because it’s something that I love to do. I don’t have a lot of money, so what I can give monetarily is not going to go as far as my time and my skills. The fact that I can give my time and my skills to generate money for people in other parts of the world who maybe don’t have the resources or just need some basic health care. That is really cool to me, that we can do that without handing over dollars. It ends up being dollars, but the fact that it’s royalties and it accrues over time…that a photoshoot that everyone is contributing to can raise thousands of dollars is great.

The community factor has always been really amazing to me. When we originally started, the shoots happened once a year, all on the same day. It’s not realistic to do it that way anymore, but when that happened, that communal feeling that there was another crew in another city doing a photoshoot and that there were communities receiving our funds to build schools or put in irrigation systems is brilliant. And it makes you feel that sense of community, that we’re all working together.

CEF: Which of CEF’s development projects do you find most inspiring?

Monashee: The thing about the women in business concept is that CEF funds some projects working with women and giving women educational tools. That’s something that I’m passionate about. That tie-in is really nice, that there’s this concept of women in business and that there’s women in Guatemala or Sierra Leone or wherever the project is, working to build their communities up. If you teach a woman how to read, she takes that back to her community and teaches others. Women in a lot of the cultures that CEF is involved with play that role of disseminating knowledge. 

Thank you to Monashee for all her hard work. Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming photoshoot with Monashee and more on Giving Tuesday!

The People of CEF: Lauren Girdler

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

10405623_10152232946272551_5912378035132877815_nAs an international non-profit organization, Compassionate Eye Foundation depends on the hard work of talented individuals willing to donate their time and expertise. We appreciate this and would like to once again recognize one of our outstanding volunteers!

Lauren Girdler is the Vancouver-based marketing manager at Savox Communications, a manufacturer of radio accessories and search and rescue equipment. Early in 2014 Lauren joined the CEF community as our editor, a position in which she regularly uses her keen eye for detail and editing skills to review all content for the blog, website, and newsletter before it is made public. She is responsible for providing general grammar and punctuation edits, as well as clarification on content – it’s a tough job but someone has to do it!

Lauren was first introduced to the world of commercial imagery through a previous job as an instructional designer, in which she would spend hours searching stock photography banks. When she came across the CEF opportunity in an online volunteer posting, she felt a real connection to our funding model. In her own words, she “really liked the idea of supporting sustainability and educational projects around the world”, and we couldn’t agree more!

Currently Lauren is building a consistent writing style guide for all contributing writers within CEF, which will be promoted throughout our entire organization. And when she is not doing this, she enjoys spending her time travelling, cooking, doing yoga, or playing soccer.

From all of us at CEF, a huge thank you to Lauren for your continued hard work!

The People of CEF: John Grant

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

ice cream JohnJohn Grant is the Associate Director of Simon Fraser University’s Alumni Relations office. When he’s not busy providing services to the university’s 130,000 alumni across the world, he is working hard as the editor of Compassionate Eye Foundation’s internal newsletter, In Focus.

Before John joined CEF, the board was keen to figure out a way to share information and updates with our numerous core volunteers. CEF has always recognized that effective communication is vital and that it is important that volunteers know the direction the organization is moving in. And so, in collaboration with Executive Director Susan McDonald, John created In Focus, a monthly email update sent to volunteers and contributors. First and foremost came figuring out which types of content are of most interest to the group. Each month, following the board meeting, John is sent the high level items that the board wishes to share with volunteers. He then tweaks some of the content, adds links and images, and formats the overall piece before sending it out.

John first encountered CEF at the 2012 Timeraiser Vancouver event. He was instantly drawn to the concept of combining photography with international development projects. As John says, “it seemed like an incredible concept and sure enough it’s turned out to be a really great organization to work with”. Through Timeraiser John pledged to volunteer 100 hours with Vancouver non-profits, including CEF. He has since accomplished this goal but he isn’t stopping there! John plans to continuing working as the In Focus editor in the future. Being so dedicated to this project is not without its unique challenges – namely finding the time to accomplish so much as a full-time SFU employee, recent Master of Education graduate, and enthusiastic volunteer – however it is a challenge he happily accepts.

When asked about what advice he would share with other CEF volunteers, John recommends that others try to attend a photo shoot. John was our behind the scenes correspondent at the 2013 Family – Work, Rest, and Play shoot with Steven Errico, and he named this as his favourite CEF experience thus far: “It was super cool!”

Thank you for all your contributions, John. We are excited to have you as part of the CEF family now and in the future!

The People of CEF: A Thank-you to Philippa Cooper

Philippa Scaramanga_1Krystele Chavez, Social Media Coordinator

Three years ago, out of a desire to use her skills to give back, Philippa Cooper became the Compassionate Eye Foundation‘s Submissions Coordinator.

Philippa got involved with CEF after Rob Daly, one of our members on the advisory council, suggested that it might be of interest to her. Having worked in the photography industry for many years, Philippa was thrilled to join a non-profit organization that raises funds for charity projects through its creative community.

Philippa plays a crucial role in getting CEF’s images uploaded onto the Getty website; you can pretty much say that her role is what helps us get sales! As Submissions Coordinator, Philippa manages all the images from photoshoots until they are uploaded onto the Getty website. Once she instructs the Getty editors on how CEF wants the images to be retouched, she does quality control checks to ensure the images are done to a high standard, as well as apply any final tweaks to the retouching to maximize the images’ potential. Afterwards, Philippa uploads the images and releases them onto the Getty site with the application of metadata and keywords, a process which helps images to be found on the Getty website and additionally helps our sales. Only wanting the best, Philippa also does checks on the Getty site to ensure that the correct keywords have been applied.

Because CEF is an organization compromised of team members from around the globe, Philippa also liaises with retouchers in India. Additionally, she was in charge of setting up a system that is cost effective and generates consistent high quality retouching.

Philippa recalls one of her highlights of working with CEF: “The best experience so far was when the 800 images for 2011 were finalised and online on the Getty website. Seeing the images online marked the end of a long process which made me feel very proud.”

Philippa exemplifies the type of individual who takes the time to contribute as much as she can to an organization she believes in. In addition to her work for CEF, she works as a freelance producer, portrait photographer and is involved in other post-production projects. Philippa enjoys living in a beautiful village in the English countryside with her husband, two sons, wonderful dog, horse, and chickens!

Thank you for all that you do for Compassionate Eye Foundation, Philippa!

Steven Errico’s ‘2013 Family – Work, Rest and Play’

Krystele Chavez, Social Media Coordinator

469851153Steven Errico has been a longtime supporter for Compassionate Eye Foundation since its beginnings when he worked as a full-time photography assistant for our founder, Robert Kent.

We cannot express how grateful we are to have someone as admirable as Steven be a longtime volunteer for CEF, and we are even more than ecstatic to see his collection of ‘2013 Family – Work, Rest and Play‘ up on Getty Images. Steven shared with us how the concept of this collection was really the brain child of CEF’s Creative Director, Fiona Watson. With their goal to provide a modern, upscale twist in the theme, they planned an inter-generational family interaction stock theme, but shot it with a less traditional feel. We are thankful that Steven and his crew of models, and techs, donate their time at these day-long shoots to produce a variety of high-quality stock images.

As a well-known commercial photographer, Steven explained to us the complications that he comes across when doing any kind of photography work. Although he finds it a struggle to re-enact real moments in life, he strives to make the models during a shoot feel as comfortable as possible on set so that with a little direction, they are free to be themselves and able to interact in unplanned ways. The images that resonate with him the most are the ones that capture genuine moments between people, as if to forget that the photographer was never in the room snapping shots.

You probably think that having photography as a full-time job would keep him busy enough, but Steven shared how spending time with his family is probably his biggest passion. Additionally, Steven could not contain his excitement as he and his wife Tanya are expecting their second child in July. Perhaps you may assume that both his passions are time consuming, but Steven does not stop there. A recently completed project he is excited to share is a very fun multi-day lifestyle shoot he did for the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui.

Finally, after asking Steven why he chooses to stay as a committed volunteer, he states, “It is pretty simple.  You get to work with great people who are doing great work to help some of the most impoverished people in the world.  It is nice that I can take my skills as a photographer and with the help of some very creative, very talented and very smart people, we can produce something that makes a real difference to many in need.”

Thank you for your dedication and hard work, Steven! You can check out his website at stevenerrico.com or contact him for any inquiries at info@stevenerrico.com.

The People of CEF: Brett Padelford

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Brett PadelfordIn today’s world, an organization’s online presence is often just as important as its physical presence! In addition to its blog and social media channels, the CEF website is one of the most important tools for spreading the word about CEF’s funding model, goals, and projects. One of the key people behind the website is Brett Padelford, who has been CEF’s copywriter since December 2011.

As CEF’s copywriter, Brett writes content for the website. One of his biggest projects to date has been assisting with the website redesign, when he updated all of the pages on the website, including adding new content and ensuring that existing content was up to date. The position requires a keen eye for detail and an aptitude for writing. Brett considers writing to be his core talent, and was seeking an outlet for his writing when he stumbled upon the opportunity with CEF.

“I was looking through a volunteering website based in LA, and the CEF opportunity popped up,” he recalled. “I was looking for a position where I could write, because writing is my main strength. I can write nice, flowery words about anything.”

Fortunately for Brett, his position with CEF has allowed him to contribute to a meaningful cause while exercising his strengths. “I feel like it would be selfish if I didn’t use my skills for good. Not that I’m doing anything particularly bad, but it’s a great feeling using your skills for doing good. That’s quite rewarding. It’s fun to see that what I write goes up on the website and has at least a small effect on getting people to donate and helping people around the world,” he said.

Outside of his role with CEF, Brett keeps busy with several day jobs, including social media and PR for the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band, website and PR work for his family’s construction company, freelance writing, and a small photography business. While Brett isn’t looking to getting involved with the photography aspect of CEF, he enjoys expanding his knowledge through writing for CEF.

“When I’m writing pieces, I get to learn about the places where the projects take place. One project I found particularly interesting was the floating clinic in Cambodia,” he said. “I got to learn about something that I had no idea was going on in the world.”

As for future involvement, Brett is determined to continue volunteering with CEF. “I’ll be there as long as they need me,” he said.

Thank you for all of your work with CEF, Brett! We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.