From Shelter to Shutter: Photographer tells story with The Salvation Army

by markm

This World Humanitarian Day, on August 19th, shined a light on our donors, our residents, and staff at The Salvation Army Edmonton Center of Hope. Dickson Obasuyi, a former resident, chose to give back by taking portraits for our residents in the Transitional Housing program. City Councilor Jennifer Rice also stopped by to mark the global celebration of people helping people.

City Councilor Jennifer Rice took a group photo with donors, residents and staff.

“It all started when I first moved to Edmonton in 2014, new and trying to get started with minimal funds,” said Dickson, who now is a homeowner with a thriving career at the Government of Alberta, also a photographer with his own studio. “That’s when I moved into The Salvation Army shelter in downtown Edmonton, where I was able to live, work construction jobs and save to eventually rent a place.”

Dickson explained that for five months, he stayed in Edmonton Center of Hope at night, and left in the early morning for construction jobs. When he had finally saved enough money, he moved out to rent his own place, and found a job with the Government of Alberta.

A mini photography studio was set inside the event center. Two hair designers and one esthetician who does nail treatment were also invited by Dickson to help out. Our residents all had refreshing looks after the hair and nail services provided. Each man had the chance to sit in front of Dickson’s camera and choose one of their best photos. These pictures will also feature in Dickson’s long-term project “My Story, Our Story”.

“Thanks to the amazing staff there who treated everyone in the shelter like family, I don’t have enough words to say thank you to them, from the staff checking on residents’ welfare, to the staff who cleaned the floors of the rooms daily, to the staff who will set up the computer so residents could apply for jobs,” said Dickson.

Dickson’s story with The Salvation Army has been published on national media outlets, including CBC news and The Globe and Mail.

City Councilor Jennifer Rice addressed in her speech that as a community-oriented city, Edmonton prioritizes the health and well-being of our most vulnerable people. She said, “I would like to thank Dickson for organizing this wonderful day, for sharing your story with us, and for showing others that it’s okay to seek help. And thank you to The Salvation Army for continuing to uplift community members and for changing their lives.”

“World Humanitarian Day was a warm and sunny day, made bright through the kindness of Dickson and his friends,” said Lt. Col. Brian Venables, Divisional Public Relations Secretary. “Seeing the smile on the faces of the residents showed that a little care an make every day brighter and better.”