On May 4, some of the most influential leaders and philanthropists in Toronto attended the first-ever UNMET Gala in support of WoodGreen. And some young photographers had a chance to document the event and be part of the action firsthand.
The youth (who are clients of WoodGreen’s various youth programs) along with their teacher, Toronto-based photographer Joseph Michael Howarth, snapped shots of the various gala attendees in their glamourous fashions on the red carpet. Additional support came from The Magenta Foundation, which provided the cameras and additional event day support from one of their teachers, Nyaomi.
“WoodGreen strongly believes in providing youth in Toronto the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. Youth in this program participated in skills training, then put their skills to use in a real-world situation,” said Kathy Koch, WoodGreen’s Vice President of Development. “They had an opportunity to build their portfolio and make new friends in the process.”
UNMET Gala raised $1.5 million for WoodGreen while celebrating diversity
The gala, which raised an incredible $1.5 million in support of WoodGreen, celebrated Toronto’s diversity with the theme Come As You Are. It also honoured WoodGreen's efforts to meet people where they are and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
The photographers said they enjoyed capturing the event and seeing all the action live at the Royal Ontario Museum.
“The experience as a volunteer photographer for the gala was incredibly fulfilling,” said Kidus Costa. “It was heartwarming to witness people coming together for a common purpose. I felt privileged to be part of the team capturing those moments of joy, compassion, and celebration.”
“Taking the street photos was one of my favourite moments. Another was all the brainstorming and testing cameras beforehand,” added fellow photographer Al-Hamin Animashaun. “I would love to do more photography, primarily to improve on my skills.”
Youth photographer says the experience was “educational and enjoyable”
The event gave the shutterbugs no shortage of inspiration for photos. Inspired by the heritage of the gala co-chairs, Krystal Koo and Fernanda Dovigi, the gala was a vibrant fusion of Chinese and Brazilian cultures, adorned in feathers, fiery colours, and jewels.
“Some of my favourite moments were seeing people dressed in extravagant clothing,” said Sahran Sultan, another photographer. “The experience was educational and enjoyable. I had fun and, overall, I believe it had a positive impact on me.”
Special thank you to Scotiabank for helping to make this possible as our UNMET Gala Entry Sponsor.
Through the UNMET Needs Campaign, WoodGreen will continue to develop programs that help ensure youth are well-supported with access to exciting opportunities like this.
Check out some of the images captured by the young photographers below!