In January of 2005 freelance photojournalist Najlah Feanny Hicks spotted a small story in Parade Magazine that caught her attention and would not let go. It told the tale of a woman in New Mexico who had launched a photographic effort to capture the spirit of foster children hoping it would help them find permanent homes with adoptive families who would love them.
Hicks felt an overwhelming urge to do the same in New Jersey. In a five month span she recruited more than 100 of the most celebrated photographers in the New York Metropolitan area; had them photograph more than 350 New Jersey foster children who were considered un-adoptable; launched a major exhibit of more than 300 photographs at a major venue that attracted the Governor of New Jersey; and within three years got more than 160 of those children adopted.
That 2005 exhibit, which travelled the state, was followed by another exhibit in 2008 called “100 waiting children.”
Between exhibits, Hicks became a foster mom.
But something irked Hicks.
She was disturbed by the plight of the foster children who were not adopted and who “aged out” of a system that had failed to find them permanent homes and forced them to start adulthood on their own with little or no assistance from the state or the guiding hand of capable, caring adults.
The problem of “aging out” is of gigantic proportions. Every year 25,000 kids age out nationwide. Of those, about 6,000 end up homeless. In a nation of plenty, the richest nation on earth, 1.3 million kids live without homes.
But Hicks felt that if one person would do 1 thing on one day, and if thousands of people would do the same, change could come about. By reducing a huge problem to bite sized pieces, it could be more easily digested and conquered.
In the fall of 2008 she approached Pim Van Hemmen, a former photographer and newspaper editor with whom she had co-founded The Heart Gallery of New Jersey in 2005, and planted the seed for Do1Thing.
A national, non-profit organization, which would use socially conscious photography and videography to highlight ills of society to help foster change.
Why Do1Thing is Shining its “First” Light on Homeless Teens
There are more homeless people today than at any previous time in U.S. history.
Right now, more than 1.3 million of them are children.
They’re out there alone, and they need our help.
Do1Thing believes that by focusing on highlighting one cause, while asking people to do one thing for that cause—great change can occur.
More than 25 Pulitzer-winning photojournalists and some of the most recognized names in photojournalism have come together to put a “face” on teenage homelessness while asking you to put a “face” on activism and do “1 thing” to help.
To learn how you can help, visit www.do1thing.org.