Elaine Poggi, Founder of The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals
“I have been given a gift: I am aware of and can see the world’s beauty all around me. I capture this beauty with my camera, and then my greatest joy is to share it with those who are suffering in hospitals. When I am scuba diving, I see incredibly colored fish and coral. When I am driving around the Tuscan hills, I feel the peace and tranquility of this land. When I am hiking in the Dolomite mountains with my husband and my little dog, I smell the fresh, crisp air. My hope is that my photos transmit these colors, feelings and scents to all the patients who view them.”
Elaine is an American citizen and has resided in Florence, Italy, for many years. In 2001, her 85-year-old mother was admitted to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She left her family in Italy to be with her mother and assisted her all day, and sometimes all night, every day of her almost three-month stay in the hospital. Along with her mother, Elaine experienced endless hours of loneliness, staring at sterile, white hospital walls. Out of desperation to bring life and color back into her mother’s life during her stay, she decided to alleviate the cold and unfriendly hospital environment by decorating her room with her enlarged photographs of underwater scenes and landscapes of Florence. Immediately, her mother’s room had a more comforting atmosphere. The photos had the effect of boosting her mother’s morale and also quickly became a topic of conversation for the hospital staff, other patients, and visitors.
Upon Elaine’s return to Florence, while mourning her mother’s passing, she returned to a single thought: if her photos had such a positive effect on her mother, perhaps they could offer comfort to other patients and families, to take their minds off their illnesses if only for a few moments. Because of this experience with her mother, Elaine’s mission now is to place colorful, soothing photographs of nature and beautiful places from around the world in hospitals. Her wish is to give hope and comfort to patients and their families, visitors, and caregivers to help soften the often stressful hospital experience. Elaine’s hope is that those who view her photos will feel the joy and love she felt while photographing the scenes for them. The requests for her photos are increasing. There are so many hospitals with white walls that her mission is endless. Elaine is humbled and encouraged to continue because of the enthusiastic, positive feedback from patients and hospital staff who are already viewing her photos in hospitals. Elaine received the 2010-11 Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award for Zone 31 from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International for her work with Healing Photo Art.
The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals, Inc., was incorporated in the USA as a non-profit organization in November 2002 to allow the photo project to expand. To present, more than 7,000 photos have been placed in over 400 healthcare facilities on all 7 continents.