This year’s newly redesigned Heart Gallery of Metro Orlando was unveiled at both a Children’s Party and a VIP Launch in September.
The 2010-2011 Heart Gallery of Metro Orlando debuted earlier this week with a new look and feel thanks to Family Services’ partnerships with IKEA and the International Academy of Design and Technology – Orlando. The traveling photography exhibit now features IKEA products in a room-like setting that have been repurposed by IADT-Orlando to make the exhibit a unique experience featuring 67 youth available for adoption in the Orange and Osceola County foster care system.
In the past, photo posters of the youth have featured a paragraph of biographical information about each child in an effort to draw potential adoptive parents. In this new design, each traveling photo instead features a “Hello, my name is…” banner and a shorter, more personal, biographical fact as a quote by each child.
“We took the Heart Gallery in a new direction this year,” said Gregory Kurth, CEO of Family Services of Metro Orlando. “The new rendition of the Heart Gallery feels more like home… and we are excited about the potential that this design has to draw in future adoptive parents who come to see it… [It’s] much more than an exhibit; it’s invitation to see the faces of children who need your support and to learn their stories.”
On Monday, September 13, the youth featured in this year’s Heart Gallery were invited to attend an exclusive Children’s Preview Party in downtown Orlando to see their new pictures for the first time. Family Services of Metro Orlando hosted the event at the Magic Experience Center to celebrate the youth and give them a special afternoon of food and fun. Some made crafts using small printouts of their Heart Gallery photos, others participated in fun photo shoots with professional photographer Misty Miotto and others got their faces painted by Syndi Barber to look like their favorite superhero or animal. Two Nintendo WII’s – donated by EA Sports – provided hours of friendly competition at the event and were given away as prizes along with several family-friendly video games at the end of the party. The youth enjoyed a delicious array of hotdogs, burgers, french fries and brownies provided by professional catering and event coordinator Tim Webber. Other materials for the Children’s Party were generously donated by Costco, Nickelodeon, Our DJ Rocks, Syndi Barber, Valencia Community College Foundation and Embraced by Grace.
Two days after the Children’s Preview Party, the Heart Gallery was unveiled to adults at a VIP Launch Party at the Magic Experience Center. Kitty Martinez, wife of Senator Mel Martinez, hosted the event which drew over 150 guests to see the new exhibit. Throughout the evening, attendees enjoyed buffet appetizer stations spread across several rooms of the center along with a variety of beverages and desserts, provided by Tim Webber.
Gregory J. Kurth, CEO for Family Services, addressed those in attendance mid-way through the evening, thanking them for their support of the children in the Heart Gallery. Shawn Bartelt, General Manager, and Bob Opsahl, News Anchor for WFTV 9 Family Connection; Gabriella Eitingon, Public Relations Coordinator for IKEA; Kimberly Love, Interior Design Department Chair for The International Academy of Design and Technology – Orlando; and Samantha O’Lenick for Florida Hospital were personally recognized for their sponsorship of and collaboration with Family Services.
This was the first year that multiple members of the Professional Photographers Society volunteered to donate their time and resources to photographing the foster youth in the gallery. They were honored at the VIP event as well and included Maurice Rodriguez of M R Maurice Photography; Ellyn Siviglia of Lasting Impressions by Ellyn; Gary Hughes and Julie Fioretti of Hughes Fioretti Photography; Susan Terregrossa of Studio T Photography; Misty and Nelio Miotto of Misty Miotto Photography; Damon Tucci of Damon Tucci Photography; Dan Weisberg of Dan Weisberg Photography; Nancy Jo Brown of 106 Foto; Casey Spencer of Casey Spencer Photography; and original Heart Gallery photographer, Jeff Hawkins of Jeff Hawkins Photography.
“More than 40% of the foster children featured in the Heart Gallery of Metro Orlando since its inception have found Forever Families,” said Kathy Williams, Community Advocate for Family Services and coordinator of this year’s Heart Gallery of Metro Orlando. “And we are hopeful that because of the outpouring of support and sponsorship we have already seen from our community, this will be our most successful Heart Gallery year so far.”
Come see the Heart Gallery in your community!
Find out where the Heart Gallery will be next by checking the list below. It will also be featured year-round online on the Family Services’ website at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fsmetroorlando/sets/72157624275587957/