Kelly And The Birth Of An Army
I'm not ashamed to admit it, I have come to love Kelly as I've gotten to know her. In a sense, it's what I call Portrait Love, there is an intimacy to photographing someone for a long period of time, especially when it comes to portraits. You get to know a person in a particularly way.
Kelly turned out to be an influential figure in my life, she is the Godmother of the Army Of Good. A little more than a year ago we were having dinner at the Bog (Foggy Notions) bar and restaurant, and I got to know Kelly a little bit.
Her very radiant smile caught my eye, and when I asked her if could do a portrait, she didn't blink, she said sure. A strong woman. That day, she had taken her dying pregnant mixed breed dog to the vet for emergency treatment, she was struggling in childbirth.
The vet saved one or two of the pups, and the mother. Kelly said she had a $1,300 vet bill, she said it was worth every penny to save her dog and she would do it again in a heartbeat. She was uncomplaining and generous, as usual.
I had this idea, which I kept to myself. I had all these good and loving readers out there, many if not most, passionate dog, cat or animal lovers. And my blog had grown quite a bit, nearly four million hits a year.
What if we surprised Kelly by paying her vet bill and rewarding her for her big heart and commitment to her dog. Kelly works very hard and does not make a lot of money, she would have been paying off that bill for some time.
So I mentioned this idea on my blog. I asked people to send checks. It took two days for them to arrive, and we had the money instantly. We took them to the bank, deposited them, and wrote check to Kelly for the full amount, and wrote another check, the overage for $200 to a local animal shelter.
I was shocked and delighted. I saw that the power of the Internet to do great good instead of just sowing division and argument. I remember thinking about the possibilities for doing good.
I went to Kelly's house to take a photo of her – she wanted to let everyone see the pups and thank them. Other than that, i have never spent any time with Kelly outside of the Bog. Yet I could not feel closer to here than I do. It's strange how chemistry works, and I am grateful that Kelly has trusted me all year to take her portrait once or twice a week.
For me, Kelly embodies the Christmas spirit. She did so much good without even knowing it.
I remember thinking, what if Donald Trump used his Twitter Account, which now has 42 million subscribers, to do good each day, to raise money for a needy person or a good cause. The possibilities were bone-rattling.
Why not use the blog in a new way, not only to be read but also to do good for people who are so inclined. That, it turns out, is a lot of people.
So in my own much smaller way, and inspired by Kelly's big heart, I set out to do a much smaller version of that. The Army of Good was born, although I didn't think to call it that for a couple of months.
We started helping the Mansion residents, buying them air conditioners, lift chairs, clothes, books, getting them letters and holiday gifts and clothes and decorations, an outdoor chair and table set, even a van to get them to doctor's appointments and outings.
We began supporting a refugee soccer team in Albany and the boys and girls in their after school program. We bought art supplies, books, projectors, clothes, sent money for tuition, to help parents pay of loans, for scholarships to local classes, snow clothes for boys and girls.
We even got the boy's soccer team new uniforms, they are much in need right now.
Kelly inspired all of this in a way, money for her vet bill was perhaps the very first deed of the Army Of Good.
I've always admired and respected Kelly, watching the graceful and warm way in which she does her difficult job. She is uncomplaining, always ready to smile, patient and even-tempered. I have come to love here these days, Portrait Love is a special kind of love.
I believe that in order to take a good portrait, you have to love the subject. It shows. Thanks Kelly, for the good you are conscious of, and for the good you may not realize you have spawned. And thanks for letting me take your picture.
You have brightened the days of a great many people with your smile and grace.
I thought it would be a lovely thing if those of you who have been following Kelly might wish to send her a Christmas or holiday card. I think she would love it, and I would be grateful.
The address would be Kelly Nolan, Foggy Notions, 52 East Main Street, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. Thanks.