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News . Feature Stories . Students Brought Joy + Art to Children with Cancer

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November 01, 2010

Students Brought Joy + Art to Children with Cancer

CIA students worked with the nonprofit Flashes of Hope to give kids with cancer the gift of photography.

Students Brought Joy + Art to Children with Cancer

Twelve Cleveland Institute of Art students donated their photographic talents and their compassion to children with cancer when they volunteered to take portraits of patients at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital in October.

The photo shoot—which was also an upbeat Halloween party—was organized by the Cleveland-based Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit organization that runs monthly portrait sessions in 47 hospitals nationwide. Dodd Camera donated equipment for the shoot.

“This was such a rewarding experience for all of us but especially for our students who created an entertaining atmosphere and were both professional and compassionate when working with the children,” said Professor Nancy McEntee ’84, faculty coordinator of the Flashes of Hope effort. “The students who volunteered their time for this event gained a real understanding that art can be a vehicle for exchange between institutions and organizations and that they as individuals can be productive participants within our community by contributing their talent to enrich the lives of others.”

Lisa (Morgan) Cencula ’91 agrees. A photography graduate who now serves as director of marketing and special events for Flashes of Hope, she said the event was a great success. “It was a wonderful experience for the CIA students to have so early in their careers. This was an opportunity for them to learn that they can turn their talents into a gift that ends up becoming a cherished possession of these families. I hope they feel very proud about what they were able to do.”

Flashes of Hope aims to change “the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography.” The organization normally works with volunteer professional photographers, most of them members of the American Society of Media Photographers. Cencula said the CIA students rose to the challenge of functioning as professionals.

“The students were very professional in their manner in dealing with each other and with the families, and they demonstrated some very sophisticated skills and behaviors when they were there.”

Eleven of the students are photography majors and one, Harini Kasturi, is a communication design major who is taking Introduction to Photography with McEntee. The photography majors are JR Berry, Jaymee Crusan, Megan Drmota, Caitlin Groh, Sarah Groh, Rosie Hileman, Stephanie Mercer, Joseph Minek, Taylor Moorehead, Marissa Palevsky, and Emily Smith.

McEntee looks forward to future such collaborations. “I have the utmost respect and appreciation for everyone who works so hard on behalf of Flashes of Hope. What they do for these children is immeasurable and I value the opportunity they gave us to be involved,” she said.

Earlier in October, four photography students from CIA and two from Cuyahoga Community College volunteered at another Flashes of Hope event, Big Shots Little Stars, sponsored by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rosie Hileman, Sarah Groh, Caitlin Groh, and Troy Hoffman joined McEntee and her husband, Jonathan Wayne ’88, co-coordinator photography at Tri-C, in acting as paparazzi at a children’s fashion show/fundraiser sponsored by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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