Magic Johnson said “All kids need a little help, a little hope, and someone who believes in them.” This quote speaks to the heart, and soul, of the Heart Gallery NYC, a non-profit “founded in 2006, that utilizes photography to raise awareness of, and recruit permanent, loving adoptive families for children in foster care in New York City.” I had the honor, and joy, to interview Executive Director Laurie Sherman Graff and Lisa Hoskins, Associate Director of this special organization. They also created, and manage, Heart Gallery New York, the statewide initiative in collaboration with the New York State Office of Children and Families Services (OCFS).
“You might temporarily be in their lives. They might be temporary in yours. But there is nothing temporary about the love or the lesson.” Tonia Christle
According to the American SPCC (American Society for the Positive Care of Children) there are over 437,000 children and youth in foster care. Neglect is the number one reason children are removed from their home. Children and youth wait an average of three to four years to become adopted. In the USA 118,000 children are waiting to get adopted. While there are some variations from state to state the basic requirements to be a foster parent include:
- Completion of an application for family home license
- Background check, criminal history check and fingerprinting of each adult member of the household
- Family stability
- Home inspection and personal interview
- Character references
- Minimum age of applicant: 21
You can rent, work, and be single to become a foster parent. What is required is a willingness to complete the training required, have emotional and financial stability, be responsible, caring and willing to work with the agency that supervises their home.
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank… but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.” Forest Witcraft
Heart Gallery NYC is one of nearly 100 Heart Galleries across the United States of America. What began from a moment between a Santa Fe photographer and an adoption worker has now evolved to a fierce group of dedicated professional photographers alongside volunteers in a variety of roles sharing their skills to photograph these beautiful children seeking their forever, loving, caring home. Professional photographers like Deborah Feingold who is known for taking photographs of Madonna and Keith Richards donates her time and talents to photograph these children. Laurie shared that the children and youth are treated like superstars during the photography shoots. Makeup artists and hair stylists volunteer their services, there are always gifts for the children and they are treated to lunch. The children and youth who have been through so much do their best and give their best. They are the shining stars who continue to believe their forever, healthy, happy home is out there for them.
“Every child deserves a champion. An adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” Rita Pierson
Heart Gallery NYC is the first, and only, Heart Gallery in the USA to offer PRIDE exhibits with photos of LGBTQ youth. They recognize that LGBTQ youth, just like all children, are seeking a loving, kind, healthy supportive family. Additional special projects have included finding mentors for children and creating intern programs for youth aging out of foster care. While COVID put a pause on some of the Heart Gallery NYC special projects, both Laurie and Lisa said that when the time is right they will resume some of the projects or even begin new ones. They, along with the other volunteers at Heart Gallery NYC, are always looking for actions they can take to help these incredible children find their forever home.
It is with honor we shine the Kindness Champion spotlight in the REMARKABLE Heart Gallery NYC, a non-profit that “utilizes photography to raise awareness of, and recruit permanent, loving adoptive families for children in foster care in New York. In collaboration with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, NYC Administration for Children’s Services and the foster provider agencies,” We thank you for being you and bringing your awesome to the world.
Here is information on Heart Gallery NYC, Heart Gallery New York, and how to adopt a child:
Heart Gallery NYC website:https://www.heartgallerynyc.org/
Heart Gallery New York website: https://www.heartgallerynewyork.org/
Heart Gallery NYC information on how to adopt a child: https://www.heartgallerynyc.org/how-to-adopt-2
Heart Gallery New York information on how to adopt a child: https://www.heartgallerynewyork.org/how-to-adopt
To contact the Heart Gallery NYC: http://info@heartgallery nyc.org
***Information on becoming a foster parent gathered from the National Foster Parent Association online resources.