In PA, Goodwill Collaborates with Local Camera Club for Youth Mentorship

Collage of photographsGoodwill Industries of the Conemaugh Valley (Johnstown, PA) recently partnered with the Greater Johnstown Camera Club to provide teens a creative outlet through the GoodGuides youth mentoring program. An opening reception on March 11 celebrated the collaboration. The students’ work is also showcased in a photo exhibition entitled “Through My Eyes,” which is on display at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County.

Approximately 25 local youth between the ages of 12 and 20 participated in the project. The exhibit included more than 100 photographs capturing life in downtown Johnstown, depicted events such as a 10,000 Maniacs concert and the city’s annual Halloween parade. Photos were taken with disposable cameras donated by Beginnings Inc.. The Greater Johnstown Camera Club then developed and printed the pictures.

“We hope to share what our youth are seeing,” said Cindy O’Connor, Johnstown GoodGuides program manager. “This exhibit is our first time, and we believe it’s a great start of knowing where we are as a community and how far we need to go.”

Five club members served as mentors by teaching the teens how to use a camera along with new techniques, and introducing participants to possible career options. Students from the Johnstown Alternative Learning Center were also invited to receive outreach mentoring sessions with the GoodGuides program and took photos within their schools.

“About 18 months ago, money was donated to buy cameras for the student program,” said Bill Davis, past club president and current mentor. “Goodwill now has five digital single-lens reflex cameras and 12 point-and-shoot digital cameras.” Davis himself grew up in difficult times, similar to some of the youths he has been working with.

“When kids get interested in something and develop a passion, they pursue it aggressively and it opens their minds to so many possibilities,” he said. “It could lead to a pursuit of a life’s work or a continuation of a great hobby.”

GoodGuides coordinators plan to work on other projects that include partnering with a local fashion club and garden club.