The inspiration for the mission behind Love Not Lost came long before the organization was started. In November of 2009 Ashley Jones, founder of Love Not Lost, gave birth to a baby girl born with a terminal illness known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA. SMA is a disease similar to ALS and Ashley was told her daughter likely wouldn't see her first birthday. Defying the odds, 21 months after the diagnosis, her daughter sadly passed away from the illness. Before her daughter's passing, Ashley's family was gifted a photography session to help them celebrate their daughter's life and help ease their long-term pain and grief. As described in Ashley's story on the Love Not Lost website:
"The photos we have of our family of three have provided so much joy and comfort in her absence and are the only prints we have framed in our home. They have helped through the grief and allowed others to 'meet' our daughter since most people just assume that my husband and I don't have any kids yet."The memories captured during her photo session inspired Ashley to help other families facing terminal illness. Before, and for several years after her daughter's passing, Ashley donated various photo sessions with the hope that her efforts would help others through their loss and grief. After a few years of volunteering her time for this cause, Ashley decided to launch Love Not Lost as an official 501(c)3 non-profit so her reach could extend to more and more families in need.
We first met photographer Ashley Jones, of Shutter Sweet Photography, at Imaging USA in Atlanta, GA. Ashley provided our booth staff with details about her efforts and mission behind Love Not Lost. After learning more about the program, we knew her organization would be a perfect fit for Canvas for a Cause. In April 2016, when the time came for Ashley to officially launch her non-profit, she re-connected with our team and the Canvas for a Cause and Love Not Lost partnership was put into motion.
The Love Not Lost launch party took place on April 30, 2016 at the Trinity Surfaces Design Gallery in Atlanta, GA. The event kicked off with food and drinks from local area vendors while attendees explored and bid on silent auction items. The live auction followed soon after and it provided both entertainment for the crowd and offered additional ways to donate to the cause. To provide a visual story of Love Not Lost, Ashley decided to include a gallery wall display of some of her Love Not Lost photos and reached out to us for support with the project. The full canvas donation offered Ashley a two panel wall display featuring photographs from over seven years of sessions with families dealing with terminal illness. The canvases were displayed proudly throughout the event and offered guests a visual representation of the faces and stories behind Love Not Lost.
L: Ashley Jones and her husband at the Love Not Lost Event; R: An attendee views the LNL Canvas Wrap display | Event Photography by Janet Howard Studio
After the auction, Ashley shared the story behind Love Not Lost, as well as the stories of the families she's been able to support with the program. Ashley's speech ended with her vision for the future of Love Not Lost, which is summarized below, as well as shared in more detail in her launch party blog post on LoveNotLost.org:
"We have six more applicants, all over the US, with more expected with upcoming publication features. We are building a grief training program so that we can invite other photographers to help us capture and preserve memories from all over the nation. For every session photographed, we want to treat our photographers to wellness so they can keep serving with us long-term. We also premiered the promo video, which now has a permanent place on our homepage and on YouTube."
Overall, the evening was a huge success for Ashley and the Love Not Lost organization. Between the silent and live auctions, attendees helped raise over $26,000, which is almost half way to their annual fundraising goal. At the close of the event, Ashley also kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to reach a large audience of people who want to support her program. To raise awareness for the campaign, Ashley displayed the donated Canvas Wraps in a prominent Atlanta coffee shop, Octane Coffee. The canvases were displayed in the shop throughout the month of May and helped engage the audience both in-person and on social media (Ashley's Instagram photos from the display--and a collage from the event--are posted below).
The long-term goal with the Canvas Wraps is to provide the families pictured with the Canvas Print for display in their homes. This goal aligns perfectly with the overall mission of Love Not Lost, and Ashley truly looks forward to presenting each family with this special memento of their loved ones. But first, Ashley plans to display the canvases one last time at Love Not Lost's November event in honor of Ashley's daughter's birthday.
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