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What matters to you?  It's an important question and one that I posed to my 2024 Senior Model Team. I asked them to research a cause or organization that is important to them and write a summary of what it is and why it matters. Their responses were amazing. One of the reasons I love Senior photography so much is because I love their hearts, their energy, their passion as they get ready to step out into the world with newfound independence.  I am excited to share with you what they shared with me. Two of my seniors had different views on a particular topic and I absolutely loved they way they supported and encouraged each other, even with differing opinions on something so personal to them. I look at these people and am very encouraged for the future of our society. It will be in amazing hands. 




Ryan Goodson presenting ALEX'S LEMONADE STAND:


Founded by the courageous Alex Scott, ALEX'S LEMONADE STAND is an inspiring non-profit organization dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer. Alex's journey battling neuroblastoma fueled her determination to raise funds for research, prompting her to set up a simple lemonade stand. What began as a small initiative has now evolved into a nationwide movement with thousands of lemonade stands and events annually. The organization's transparent allocation of funds to research grants and medical institutions has yielded groundbreaking discoveries in pediatric cancer treatment. Supporting ALEX'S LEMONADE STAND allows individuals to make a direct impact, offering hope and support to families facing cancer diagnoses. Participating in these events fosters a sense of unity and compassion within communities, honoring Alex's legacy of unwavering commitment to children's brighter future. I have always been known around my church and family as being good with kids. I find that children are so full of joy and excitement. Hearing stories of children that have been diagnosed with cancer has always been something that makes an impact on me.

Ava Fritts presenting organ donation:

Organ donation is the act of giving an organ or organ to a recipient in need. When you go to the DMV they'll ask if you want to become an organ donor and put it o your driver's license or when the time comes you can put it in your will. For me, it's what saved my oldest cousin's life way before I was born. She needed a liver transplant, and was at the time the youngest to ever receive one. There are 104,234 people waiting for an organ in the United States, and every 17 minutes someone dies waiting for a transplant. But things are looking up, organ donation is becoming a smoother process. And while only 60 percent of adults that say they support organ donation are donors themselves, the number of donors continues to rise every year creating more opportunities to save lives.

Audree Cox and AFSP:

AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) is a world-wide, non-profit, organization founded in 1987, dedicated to prevent and get help to those with thoughts of suicide, self-harm, etc. This organization addresses issues such as suicide awareness and prevention, and mental health awareness. Their mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. They have reached out and helped over 300,000 people with prevention and loss healing programs in the workplace, school setting and their organization. AFSP is meaningful to me because it pains me to see what people go through and how easily grief can take ahold of someone’s life, and it gives me so much happiness to see those people get the help they need and see that they are so much happier. AFSP Helps these issues by  providing the following: Suicide prevention interventions and treatments, Suicide prevention resources, LGBTQ ( “Research has found that 82% transgender individuals have considered suicide (Austin et al., 2022), 40% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide (Tanis, 2006) and LGBTQ+ youth are nearly 2.5x more likely to consider suicide than their straight, cisgender peers (Luk et al., 2021).” )crisis and support resources(over 80%!!!), Mental Health resources for underrepresented communities, Mental Health resources for school administrators and staff, and many more. One example of the difference in peoples lives AFSP is making is they have mobilized and connected thousands of teens/adults/children who have lost a loved one to suicide, and they have reached thousands of individuals who are at risk for suicide and the their loved ones. It brings me happiness and joy to know that people around the world are getting the help they need to overcome grief and loss with AFSP and are getting help to get back up on their feet.

Audra Mahurin and Convoy of Hope:

Convoy of Hope is an organization that helps serve people who are less fortunate. They are based in Springfield, Missouri, but they help all over the United States and internationally. Some of the ways they help are supplying backpacks and school supplies to thousands of kids, provide meals, and assist in disaster relief. This organization is important to me because its headquarters is close to where I live and they help people all over the world, not just in the United States. They are there for people who are truly in need due to poverty and have survived some type of disaster. One example of them making a difference is they packed over 10,000 bags of food in just 2 hours. The bags were given out to families across southwest Missouri. One way you can donate to this organization is donating clothes. We have donated multiple bags of clothing to our local bins that convoy of hope has set up. It’s a great feeling to know you are providing clothing to someone in need.


Maddie Mettlach and The Dot and Whitey Mettlach Memorial Foundation:


The Dot and Whitey Mettlach Memorial Foundation was established in 2021 after my grandfather, Whitey Mettlach, passed away suddenly to COVID.

I never met my grandmother, Dorothy Mettlach, as she passed in 2004 after a battle with colon cancer. My family established this fund after my grandfather's passing due to the many stories we were told of how he helped so many people in our community that we never new about, we wanted to keep their legacy alive and continue the many selfless acts he and my grandmother made during their short time on Earth. The foundation is still new, however our goal is to help people with a variety of needs and hopefully impact people and lead by their examples.

Zoey Courtney and Pregnancy Care Center:

Pregnancy Care Center is an organization dedicated to helping families. They believe that every life has value.Pregnancy Care Center has a lot to offer for parents, especially new parents. They have pregnancy testing and nurses there to guide parents, education for mothers and fathers on how to be parents, help parents develop a support system with mentors to guide them when needed, and sex education for teenagers to prepare them. They don’t just focus on the children; they believe in supporting the whole family. Pregnancy Care Center matters to me because I share the same beliefs they do. I believe that every single child deserves a chance at life. They believe that abortion not only hurts the child, but also hurts the mother and father. They reduce and bring awareness to pressing issues in their community. They Work diligently to reduce child abuse/neglect, communicable diseases, domestic violence, fatherless families, families in poverty, low birth-weight babies, school drop-out rate, and teen pregnancies. More than 225,000 people have been cared for by Pregnancy Care Center and many more will be in the coming years.

Magdalyn Lindsey and  Center for Reproductive Rights:


Since Roe v. Wade was overturned many states are putting radical bans on women’s right to abortion. Organizations like The Center for Reproductive Rights are fighting against this because not only does it ban abortions in the case of unsafe pregnancies, but since studies have also shown that women will still get abortions, just in dangerous ways. This leads to them dying or bleeding out, many in their own homes. But, The Center For Reproductive Rights uses the power of law to vouch for reproductive rights a fundamental right all around the world. They use law to fight for our rights in a legal way. Women’s right to abortion is something that needs to be understood and fought for. Losing 2 lives is always worse than losing 1.  

Trishelle Alger and  American Heart Association:

American Heart Association is a non profit organization that specializes in the awareness of strokes and heart diseases. It is also the nation's largest and oldest organization dedicated to fixing these problems. Here's a quote from the AHA's website "Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke." I mostly chose the organization because my Papa had an extensive history of heart problems. One of my early memories of him was when my family and I were waiting in the hospital waiting room for his open heart surgery to be over. Just over 5 months ago he was falling and passing out at his house. The people staying with him called the ambulance and they took him to the hospital. The hospital held him for observation. My Papa had passed away from a heart attack in the hospital that night. This obviously was a huge shock to the family, and this made me feel more conscious of AHA. My Mom's work had worked with AHA by offering customers to donate to help the organization. She had dedicated 10 or so of her donations to my Papa and the family. I feel the Organization is great because of the way they bring awareness to strokes and heart diseases and help people be more aware of these cardiac problems. 

Caden Szydloski and autism acceptance:

I want to pick autism acceptance as my cause.  I pick this because my cousin "B" is on the autism spectrum, and I see some of the challenges that she faces, but I've also seen the challenges that she has overcome.  There are several organizations that advocate for autism such as Autism Speaks, The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, and Autism Society of America to name a few.  They mostly all have the same goal - help improve the lives of individuals and families with autism.  They all provide programs, services, support groups, resources, education, and advocacy efforts at the state and federal level.  A few months ago, I was able to attend a local event for a young boy named Caiden, from Pierce City, MO, who celebrates his journey by raising money and then donating the proceeds towards a sensory room for the PC person making a huge impact for many people for many years to come!    


Emma Hunter and Next Step Ministries:

Next Step Ministries is a non-profit organization that centers around short mission trips that have a long-term impact in communities. They currently serve in 13 different communities, 12 are in the United States and they also have one location in Guatemala. Their mission statement is to provide students with opportunities where they can experience God and explore their faith, while also serving others in the community, all for the glory of God. Next Step mission trips are also fully led by students who are in college who are sacrificing their summer to intern and serve these communities. In my high school experience, I have been on two different mission trips with Next Step. My first mission trip with them was in 2021 when my church and another from Arkansas went to Colorado Springs. This past summer, my church went on another trip to Eastern Kentucky with another church from Georgia. Both of these trips left a big impact on me and my own journey with Christ, especially because it allowed me to experience His love in a different environment, with different people. They also allowed me to show that love to people I wouldn’t usually be able to. Overall, Next Step is definitely something that has had a big impact on my life, and I hope to be able to intern with them over a summer in my future. 

Lauren Blackburn and Camp Barnabas:

Camp Barnabas is an amazing experience that is dedicated towards providing a week long summer camp for individuals with special needs or chronic illnesses. This Christian camp has a driven passion to make their campers feel limitless from all of the fun activities they provide. The camp arranges fishing, canoeing, archery, ziplining, swimming, mini-golf, and so much more for the campers to experience. They are matched one-on-one with volunteers so they can get the full support they need while also building lifetime relationships. Each week is geared to a specific age range and a set of diagnoses so that each camper is in a cabin with others similar to themselves. Age ranges from 7 to 18 come from across the country to Southwest Missouri to participate in this joy-filled camp. The camper’s siblings are invited to join the fun as well. I want to bring awareness to this camp because I love that it is a Christian based organization that values not only changing lives of those with disabilities and chronic illnesses, but also loved ones of the campers, high school ministries, and donors. Camp Barnabas has done an outstanding job with expanding their site each and every year. In past summers, it was my pleasure to help clean up the facility to get it prepared for the campers summer to begin. I appreciate the opportunity to bring awareness to Camp Barnabas, a camp that makes everyone feel included.

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