Exhibit has ‘heart’

Steven had been living in the Westchester group home for nine years when he attended a holiday party in the basement of a West Village church.
Little did he know that would change his life forever.
It was there that he met Keith, a 49-year-old prospective adoptive parent who would become the special person Steven could call “Dad.”
The event, called a “matching party,” was organized by a non-profit group called Heart Gallery NYC, whose mission is to find permanent, loving families for city children in foster care. The organization utilizes the talents of award-winning and notable photographers to raise awareness by photographing the kids and displaying their portraits in well-trafficked venues throughout the five boroughs.
Keith had long wanted to adopt but had in mind a younger child - that is, until he met Steven.
Keith promised Steven’s social worker that he would call the following morning, and he did.
Last month, Steven moved out of the group home and in with Keith. Now, Steven has a permanent home with a loving parent.
“I believe in giving children the love that they need and the family that they need,” said Keith. “Now he has somebody and I have somebody, so together we are a family.”
“Matching parties” are only one way that Heart Gallery NYC works to find permanent homes for some of the city’s hardest-to-place foster children. Since its inaugural launch last July 15 children from the first photo exhibit of 50 have been matched with adoptive families and others have been paired with mentors from the Heart Gallery NYC’s new mentor program run in association with Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.
Executive Director Laurie Sherman Graff attributes the success of the program to the assistance of compassionate photographers and volunteers and the heartfelt message that the photographs portray to parents looking to adopt.
“At Heart Gallery NYC our motto is ‘Shoot a photo, change a life,’ ” she said. With over 50 portraits being featured in their upcoming Queens Center Mall exhibit on August 14, Heart Gallery hopes to change at least 50 more.
For foster children who have spent years looking for permanent homes, finally finding someone to love is huge. But it’s not just the kids whose lives are changed.
“When you see that what you’re doing results in a child finding a home, finding parents, finding a family, you just want to keep going,” said Sherman Graff.
To find out more about Heart Gallery NYC, call 212-965-8699, or visit www.heartgallerynyc.org.

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