Here at Kristie Montrois Portraits, we’re big believers in give back. I feel so blessed to be where we’re at right now — not just in the success of this business, but also just in my everyday life. In 2018, after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting in Parkland Florida, I felt compelled to step in and do something.
My friend and NHL wife, Kelly McFarland was picking up her children from school a block away from where the shooting took place. I was watching her Instagram story about her fears surrounding her circumstances while I was in the car line here in Utah picking up my daughter from high school. My heart froze.
I have been a law enforcement officer myself for 20 years and I have never understood that kind of evil. How someone can prey upon our most vulnerable citizens has always been a puzzle for me. But, what could I do from Utah? What did I have to offer from this far away?
I reached out to Kelly with a give back proposal to work together on a project that would offer some healing for victim’s families. We decided to offer family portraits to families of the NHL for 50% off my regular session investment. With every package they purchased, I would donate a package to a victim’s family. We did not offer gifted sessions to survivor families though. We did not want to traumatize a survivor family with a family session knowing they had lost a loved one during the shooting.
For nine months, I was on the road all over the United States and Canada photographing families of the NHL that Kelly had coordinated with to have a session. In September 2018, I flew to Florida to photograph families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. We had services for hair and makeup donated to us by Pricila Birro, Mimi Fondeville and Jessica Bonilla. We also had a room at the Sonesta Resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach donated to us as well. For 14 days, from 7 am to 5 pm, my assistant and I drove to various beaches between Juno Beach and Key Biscayne to photograph families with the NHL, the MLB and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The stories we were told by these families have changed my life forever. I
Next week, I will be headed back to Florida for the first time since the event to photograph families that wanted me to return. I feel pretty blessed they have asked me to return. I am a bit emotional about the prospect of returning a year later. I am also anxious to see if there has been any healing of these families since I was there last. The entire experience to give back to the community in this way was incredibly rewarding.
In addition to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas event, every year we donate gift cards for services to The State of Utah Guns and Hoses organization. The organization supports/aids families of fallen officers and firemen with expenses.
I know these are small ways to give back, but small things can make an impact. I’ll leave you with this beautiful Mother Teresa quote: “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”
Below are some of our moments we all shared during the event: