Of all the things we have been able to do with our business, the things we love most always surround the work we do with the young people who cross our paths.
As photographers, particularly senior photographers, we have such an amazing opportunity to give back. To make connections, get to know our young people, come along side them, get to and become one more voice of reason to help support and love on them as they transition through their last year of high school.
Last year, while dreaming up different activities for our street team - I thought about the things that I loved so much growing up! One of the things that stood out in my mind were the potlucks that we had at our church! As I thought about those gatherings, all of the fellowship, and the community and, of course, the yummy food, I thought about our street team and wondered if they ever had the opportunity to experience or engage in something similar.
While on Periscope one day, someone also asked if our girls had ever gotten together and studied and that stuck with me. Plain and simple, there is something so special about gathering around a table - it's why holidays are so revered, and why going out to dinner is so popular when socializing. We all have to eat, and food brings us together. It slows us down, forces us to want to talk and share about our goals and dreams, solve our problems, and be there for one another.
We realized that there were far too many gaps between our street team functions and events – and I wanted to make sure I was checking in on not just my current girls but my older girls, our alumni who were off in college doing their thing too. We had very little going on last fall/ winter and it was dark by 4pm. Sundays in our house are reserved for rest and prep for the week, so we decided to open up our home on Sunday evenings to be a place for our girls to gather to fellowship, connect and study and they also prepped for theirs.
So what is so special about dinner,one might ask. Well I thought about this too and here are a few benefits I have seen of doing this a couple times of month.
The benefits of Sunday dinner:
- safe place to do homework and to get help or suggestions from their peers which promotes the development of strong relationships, leadership development and peer mentorship
- you can partner with tutors or other folks in your community who provide services or products your young people might love, and who need direct access to young people and schedule presentations
- it's consistent time every week to connect with your young people in your community
- accountability for the girls – to set weekly goals and to connect about those goals in person
- they get to bring foods that reflect their culture and experience and share them together
- gives them something to look forward to that is consistent – and allows them to let their hair down
- builds community among young people at a time where it is dangerously lacking
- puts a spotlight on you and your business and what you are doing for young people in your community aside from the photographs you create for them
Want to host your own Sunday dinner but at a lost of how to pull it all together? No sweat. Below are step by step instructions on how to set up your own time with your senior models OR really any community you might want to connect with in a more intimate way.
How to host your own Sunday dinner:
- set a consistent date and a time and invite the girls
- encourage them to bring the food and you provide the drinks or the desserts – coordinate a theme or pick a theme and assign a group of girls to salad, main dish, drinks, desserts and utensils.
- or cook together // have the girls bring the ingredients and plan to get your feet wet together cooking in the kitchen
- set themes or an agenda for Sunday dinners IF you plan to have more than one a month
- have the girls tell you what they are going to be working on from week to week and check in and follow up
- you can use this as an opportunity to gather information for your own business. Let the gathering work for you by asking questions that pertain to your business, brainstorm with them while you have them in your atmosphere– let them invite a friend who might be a potential client (this week we are having the 2017 girls who may want to book a senior session come in for a visit)
Can’t do a Sunday dinner, or don't want to but need some other ideas and options:
- meet at a park for a workout
- meet at a coffee shop for a coffee date
- schedule dinner dates at restaurants
- rent out a local bakery, boutique for a couple of hours and allow the girls to show exclusively
- do study hall at the library
- plan a road trip