The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery hosted a photo shoot on Monday, June 24. Nearly 20 foster children were photographed by a team of award-winning professional photographers who volunteered their time to take portraits of the children around Coconut Grove.
The Heart Gallery is a Web-based exhibit featuring children who are available for adoption from Miami-Dade’s foster care system. Photographers, makeup artist and hairstylist donated their time and talent, while video crews recorded interviews with each child. Portraits, short biographies, and videos of each child will be added to the ongoing exhibit at <www.miamiheartgallery.org>.
The production was headquartered at the offices of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and in adjacent vacant retail space donated by Mayfair Shops. The photo shoots took place in and around Coconut Grove including Dinner Key Marina, Cocowalk, Green Street Café, Peacock Garden Café, Monty’s Raw Bar, Mayfair Hotel in the Grove, Mayfair Shops, Barnacle Historical State Park, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, and Sonesta Bayfront Hotel, among others.
The production coincided with a rebranding of the initiative around artwork created by Maria Reyes Jones (www.mariareyesjones. com), a previous Coconut Grove Arts Festival poster artist.
“Few people remember that back in the 1950s Coconut Grove was a thriving haven for artists, so it was wonderful to see Coconut Grove at the epicenter of a fusion of fine art, photography, and contemporary Web design for a grander purpose that is significantly more meaningful than just art for art’s sake,” said Monty Trainer, president of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.
The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery is a partnership between The Children’s Trust and Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe Inc., the local lead agency for child welfare in Miami and the Keys. According to the State of Florida, more than 1,500 foster children are eligible for adoption in Florida and approximately 150 of them live in Miami-Dade. These children have been removed from their biological parents for reasons of neglect or abuse with no possibility of family reunification.
Approximately half of the children who have been featured in The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery since 2009 either have been adopted or are in the process of being adopted.
“It’s wonderful to see how many children have found forever families because of The Miami Heart Gallery,” said Charles Auslander, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust. “Foster care is meant to be temporary, but oftentimes circumstances extend it to much longer than it should, so for these children, loving, permanent homes are exactly what they need to thrive and feel secure.”
The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery is modeled after the first Heart Gallery that launched in 2001 in New Mexico at the suggestion of a Santa Fe photographer and adoptive mother. The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery can be seen at <www.miamiheartgallery. org>. The new portraits will be uploaded by late summer. Anyone interested in learning more about adopting a foster child should call Our Kids at 305-455-2563 or send email to <email@example.com>.
The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.