Women's Bowery Mission by Morgana Wingard

Most of my photos capture life outside the United States.  I rarely pick-up my camera in the country I live in.  In fact, the hardest thing for me to photograph is home --the stories I'm living and breathing and smelling and walking past but failing to stop and see.  "Over there" is always more appealing. The grass is always greener on the other side, over the rainbow.  Travel and foreign destinations are idealized like a romantic comedy or adventure blockbuster (minus the awful smells and innumerable inconveniences).  "Over there" promises to be better.  "Over there" has what here does not. "Over there" offers new possibilities, impressive adventures, and exotic new friends.  Or "over there" I can forget about this or I can be that.  

As an all too accomplished wanderlust and not infrequent transplanter, I can assure you that "over there" is always different...to an extent, but rarely better.  The backdrop's painted different colors with different trees and different animals.  The people may look a little different, talk a little different, dress a little different.  But after awhile all the paints begin to run together for me.  Nowhere feels foreign anymore because underneath the seeming differences I always discover more commonalities.  I always find a friend.  What was once far away and foreign has come close to my heart.  Now it's all connected.  It's all home, all familiar, all family and I stopped needing to run away.  I never wanted to be here.  I always wanted to be there.  For the first time since I discovered there, I finally appreciate and want to be here.  

It's time to stop running.  It's time to see and love the people here living and struggling and laughing and crying in this world surrounding me.  So for the first time in a very long time, I picked up my camera without my passport to photograph the stories here at home - starting in New York City. This project, Faces of Hope with Hope for New York, is the beginning of this new journey.  An adventure into the beautiful and epic lives here.

St. Paul's House by Morgana Wingard

St. Paul's House has operated as a mission since 1945 with the goals of training Christian workers and serving the poor.  They offer food programs for the hungry as well as job training, transitional housing and discipleship programs for a limited number of men. The food programs include a five-day breakfast soup kitchen and a one day food pantry. Gospel services are held daily. 

A few more photos from my series Faces of Hope for Hope for New York.

Bowery Transitional Center by Morgana Wingard

Today I spent the day at the Bowery Transitional Center hearing the stories of the men who live and work there.  One thing I've learned is that homelessness can happen to anyone.  We talked to a former marine who worked on wall street but hasn't been able to find a job for months.  One man is a graphic designer.  Another a commercial truck driver.  One lost his house because the city kicked him out after his mother died even though they lived there since he was a child.  Homelessness can happen to anyone.  These are photos of a few of the men who live and work at the Bowery Transitional Center in Manhattan.

The Bowery Mission Transitional Center is the result of a groundbreaking partnership between New York City’s Department of Homeless Services and The Bowery Mission.  Their highly successful 6-to-9 month program is designed to transition formerly homeless drug-addicted men into independent living.  Residents participate in counseling, addiction recovery, career education and training at their on-site career center, and work experience both in-house and then off-site.  77 men can participate in the program at one time, living in single-room occupancy units. Since it opened its doors in January of 1994, The Bowery Mission Transitional Center has helped more than 1,500 men move out of the New York City shelter system.  Each year, The Bowery Mission Transitional Center is been ranked by the Department of Homeless Services among the most effective substance abuse centers in the City.

This is part of a series I'm doing for Hope for New York documenting the faces of that make up the incredible programs they support all over the city. 

Kidzone at Father's Heart by Morgana Wingard

The Father's Heart Ministries exists to demonstrate God's love through practical expressions of compassion. Programs include hunger prevention, food stamps access, gang-prevention/youth development, parenting and anger management classes, ESL classes and Alphabet Scoop - a job training/mentoring program for teens. The goal of the Father's Heart is to empower individuals to become self-sufficient, to see families healed and restored and to see them move from dependency to dignity; from poverty to prosperity.

This is part of a series I'm doing for Hope for New York documenting the faces of that make up the incredible programs they support all over the city.  

Operation Exodus by Morgana Wingard

Today I dragged my photo gear up to my old hood - Washington Heights in the upper edge of Manhattan - to photograph the children of Operation Exodus.  This is part of a series I'm doing for Hope for New York documenting the faces of that make up the incredible programs they support all over the city. 

Operation Exodus-Inner City was founded in 1988 in response to the desperate needs of children in Upper Manhattan. Located in Washington Heights, over eighty children from kindergarten through high school participate in an after school tutoring program and Saturday mentoring program run by volunteers. The children are generally behind in their education and are beginning to display the negative effects of peer pressure in their lives.  Volunteers assist with programming, mentoring, and special events for students and their families.