Center's participants get portraits taken
By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - The women involved in the programs offered at the Counseling and Recovery Center in Fort Pierce come from all walks of life.
They all deal with a variety of addictions - drugs, alcohol and more. They are a variety of ages, races, sizes and beliefs.
But at the center, they have a common goal: to become the person they know is inside each of them.
"They learn things they were never taught growing up," said Elizabeth Maxwell, the program's director of counseling and recovery. "The treatment changes them from the inside out."
And on Dec. 10, a national program helped them to not only see their inner beauty, but to show it to everyone around them.
The program, HelpPortrait, has thousands of volunteers all over the country take professional portraits of people in their cities.
What makes the program unique is those who are getting their portraits taken: people who are homeless, or suffering from addiction or just in need.
"I was excited when I heard about it," said Ms. Maxwell. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and none of these ladies have had a professional portrait done."
Local photographers donated time and supplies to volunteer a day to give these people a mini-makeover and photograph the results.
In St. Lucie County, Gorilla Magic owners Mitch Kloorfain and Wendy Dwyer were eager to help, and knew just where they wanted to do it.
"My daughter spent a year at the center, and they really helped her out," Mr. Kloorfain said. "We wanted to give back to them."
So Mr. Kloorfain, a professional photographer and chief photographer for Hometown News, brought his crew to the center to showcase 15 members of the center's programs.
Each resident was given a mini-makeover with hair and makeup before stepping in front of the camera.
Adrienne Thomas was at first hesitant about the portrait offer. The 33-year-old from Stuart has been clean for five months after a six-year battle with crack cocaine.
"I used to think that when people looked at me, they could only see the old me," she said. "But this is a different me, and I want to show people."
After the intense treatment the center offers, she realizes she does not have to be defined by her addiction.
"I'm more than that," she said. "I know what I want now, and I have what I need to get where I want to be."
Jessie Boudah was excited about the opportunity.
"I've never had my makeup done before," she said. "I'm so happy."
Addicted to opiates and alcohol, she came to the center from Port St. Lucie. She's currently been clean for three months.
"This is my first time in rehab," she said. "The people here do everything they can to help us help ourselves."
She said the recovery experience opens a whole new door of her life, and that allowed her to let go of her old one.
With the Help-Portrait project, it just reinforces what she and Ms. Thomas are learning every day.
"People care," she said, tears welling in her eyes. "They're complete strangers, and they care. It's nice to know that."
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