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December 17, 2012

Help-Portrait event is picture perfect

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Connie Falmer, left, of Macomb Township and Four Zero Five Photography, takes a photo of the Taylor family of Detroit.

WARREN — As soon as Marge Bosek put the finishing touches of makeup on Wanda Taylor, it was picture time at the Leaps and Bounds Family Services agency.

Taylor, 53, her sister Donna Anthony, 52, and several family members — including four grandchildren dressed for the occasion — gathered under the studio lights for a family portrait. Their smiles lit up the room.

The group was among 30 families who, on Dec. 8, participated in the international event Help-Portrait. Throughout the day, photographers from around the world volunteered their time to take family portraits free of charge for anyone who might not have the means for such pictures on their own. Celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart founded Help-Portrait, held worldwide, in 2009.

Leaps and Bounds services Macomb and Wayne counties, and this was the first year it brought in Help-Portrait. The agency offers a number of services to economically challenged families, including programs for parents, youth activities and English-as-a-second-language classes.

“Our agency focuses on family education,” Leaps and Bounds Executive Director Denise Dorsz said. “We have people from all faiths and cultures.”

Dorsz said families who use the facility were invited to enjoy Help-Portrait. Each family received an 8-inch-by-10-inch portrait, plus a CD of other pictures taken during the photo shoot.

Photographers Mike Darga and Connie and Steve Falmer volunteered their time behind their lenses. Bosek, who has experience in makeup artistry, and Eisenhower High School student Veronica Ercolani set up a makeup table to get families picture-perfect for their photos.

Taylor, of Detroit, said she felt “pampered.”

“It was great,” Anthony, also of Detroit, said.

The sisters, who often babysit their grandchildren, have taken early childcare classes at Leaps and Bounds. Ten hours of class were required, but Anthony and Taylor were gaining so much knowledge, they added more class hours.

“We were learning so much, we took more,” Taylor said. “You get a good pace for your children.”

The sisters picked up several childcare tips and discovered many activities in which to keep their grandchildren occupied.  

“The classes have helped me when I have children in my care,” Anthony said. “We were raised in the ’60s and things have changed. Education has changed.”

One lesson Anthony and Taylor learned is that children don’t necessarily need to play with store-bought toys all the time. Playing with something as simple as a plastic cup can be sufficient.

“They learn more,” Taylor said.

Warren resident Mujib Ahmed and his wife Husna Begum also had their family portrait taken Dec. 8. Daughters Farjana Begum, 10, and Maimuna Ahmed, 6, also were present, but oldest daughter Marjana Begum was unable to make it. 

Ahmed, who is from Bangladesh and speaks Bengali, began taking an ESL class at Leaps and Bounds three months ago.

“It’s very good,” said Begum, “The teacher is very good. She does really hard work with us.”

For more information on Leaps and Bounds visit www.leapsnbounds.org or call (586) 759-3895. The administrative offices are located at 8129 Packard inside Mount Calvary Church.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.