by Herb Geraghty
The AIM Women's Center offers free confidential care and resources to pregnant people and parents in Steubenville, Ohio. Recently, they added another service: no-cost Mommy and Me photography sessions for mothers who have chosen life. This project is the brainchild of Laura Schaefer, a local business owner who has a passion for both photography and helping out new parents. I was lucky enough to speak with Laura about her work with the pregnancy center and I hope her words can serve as inspiration to anyone else who may want to use their passions and talents to make a positive difference in their communities.
What inspired you to get started with this project?
In March of 2018 I attended a fundraising banquet for AIM Women’s Center, and I felt a tug on my heart to give more than just a monetary donation. However, I knew that we would be having another baby that year and I wouldn’t be able to volunteer regularly at the center with a toddler and newborn. So in prayer, I asked God what He wanted me to do. He told me to use my talents to bless the women who choose life. So I met with the executive director of the center and offered my photography services to the center. I not only do the Mommy and Me sessions for the women who chose life, I also do headshots and other photography for the center.
What do you hope to achieve with your service?
I hope to give to the women photographs of their newborn child, the child they chose to give birth to. I wanted to bless them with the gift of photos with their baby, especially after a tumultuous 9 months. Photos are so important, capturing moments and memories, and I wanted the women to be able to look back at photographs of their newborn and see just how precious life truly is.
How has the community response been so far?
I haven’t told many people that I’m doing this; however, those who do know think it is absolutely wonderful. I like the fact that I get to secretly do this work, hopefully making a difference in the women’s lives. I don’t do it at all for the praise or recognition. I think that’s why I don’t go around telling people about it. The women’s center is very appreciative and I love working with the staff and volunteers.
What about photography, particularly, do you think makes it an effective medium to empower women and families?
Photos are moments and memories captured, they are time that is caught in a still moment and that can be looked back upon time and time again. I’d say that because photography captures emotions in the moment, it can be used to empower the women who do choose life for their child in the womb. They can look back at these photos and think “yes, that was so hard, yes it was a tough season, but look at me. I am a strong mother and I have a beautiful child. It was so so worth it”.
Do you have any advice for someone else who may want to use their passion and talents for good?
I’d definitely say do it! That’s why you were given this gift! I see my gift of photography as a gift for others. I love the opportunity to bless others’ lives with photos. Don’t worry about not being good enough or that someone else could do it better. If not you, then who? If it’s been placed upon your heart, act upon it. Do good anyway. I can tell you from experience it has been so fulfilling.