Fundraising partnership features works by homeless photographers
‘Through Our Eyes Project’ comes to Columbia
Hundreds of images taken by homeless photographers will soon be on display at Columbia’s Koger Center, the centerpiece of an exhibit designed to raise awareness and money for local organizations that serve them.
People experiencing homelessness often cite a feeling of being invisible. Founded in 2016 by Spartanburg pastor and avid photographer Jason Williamson, Through Our Eyes Project (TOEP) gives homeless people a voice by allowing them to document their everyday lives with disposable cameras. The photos are then curated into an exhibit that celebrates the photographers and provides a personal view of homelessness that few have ever seen.
TOEP has had successful runs in other South Carolina cities such as Boiling Springs, Greenville, and Spartanburg and extended to other states: Alaska, Massachusetts, and neighboring North Carolina.
Williamson reflected on previous experiences: “The things that are always surprising is the amount of joy that a lot of people have—whether it’s a pet they’ve adopted, a child, or a friend. There’s a lot of joy, and that’s the part of the project that really caught me off guard,” he said. “We like to say that the cameras are disposable, but the people are not.”
TOEP typically partners with host churches to connect with relevant nonprofits as recipients of funds raised from project sponsors, opening reception ticket sales, and the general public, who can vote for their favorite photos for $1 per vote. The top three photographers who receive the most votes will receive gifts with the money raised.
The Columbia project debuts with a ticketed opening reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
“We’ve wanted to bring TOEP to Columbia for several years now,” said Allison Caldwell, local missions director at Shandon Baptist Church. “We’re proud to partner with Oliver Gospel, Toby’s Place, and Family Promise of the Midlands to highlight what they do for homeless men, women and children in our community, and how others can help.”
Opening reception tickets are available at Shandon.org for a donation of $25 or more. Held in the Koger Center’s upstairs gallery, the reception will include hors d’oeuvres, live music, partner booths, and a first glance at the images captured by more than 30 photographers. Space is limited and advance tickets are required to attend. After Nov. 3, the exhibit will be open for free public viewing weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Dec. 19.
Disclosure: SCAC Communications Director Jason Rapp, editor of The Hub, is an active member and current deacon of Shandon Baptist Church and volunteered on a steering group for this project. The SCAC is not a project funder. This story was a submitted news release.