Lake Forest Photographer Is Passionate About Giving Back
By David A. F. Sweet
Lake Forest resident and photographer Heidi Clifton has been busy putting each camera click to good use.
By donating a portion of her small business profits to charity, she has raised more than $27,000 to help seniors through Meals on Wheels Chicago (MOWC). Giving a portion of her profits to charity is something she’s been doing since founding her photography business, Cecily George Photography (named after her stepdaughter and son) in 2017, but the effort recently got a boost during Covid-19.
"The donations go to work tomorrow," says Heidi Clifton about Meals on Wheels Chicago.
When the pandemic prompted statewide shelter-in-place orders, she knew seniors would need help with their meals more than ever. She began conducting 19-minute, socially distanced photography sessions outside people’s homes. During what she called the “19-Minute Campaign,” she discounted her fee to $100 and donated 100 percent of it to help local seniors through MOWC. Clients from Kenilworth to Lake Bluff requested their “porch-traits” be taken. Within two months, she completed over 60 sessions and raised over $7,000 from photography fees and additional donations, far exceeding her expectations.
“I think it’s important to raise money and awareness for Meals on Wheels Chicago and what they do,” said Clifton. “The donations go to work tomorrow. This isn’t a cause where we wait for research or medical advances; you can feed a senior the next day.”
She has been asked to co-chair MOWC’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Celebrity Chef Ball, which takes place Friday, Oct. 14 at The Geraghty (2520 S. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago). Also serving as their chef liaison, she has recruited more than 50 chefs, several of them Michelin Star awardees, to prepare a six-course meal for guests at the event.
Clifton credits her husband, Jim, as she embraces a cause she is incredibly passionate about.
“None of this is possible without the amazing support of my husband,” Clifton said. “He is truly my biggest supporter and knows how important it is to give back.”
Through it all, Clifton hopes to continue inspiring others and donating more from her photography sessions.
“I would love to encourage more people to donate a small percentage to a charity they are passionate about,” she said.