December 13, 2021

Finding Peace and Light This Holiday Season

By Denise

This giving season, we invite you to explore peace and light with Photo Start Partners and Students.

Developed at the onset of the pandemic, our innovative digital program, Eric’s Circle of Light (ECOL), honors our dear friend, Eric Richenstein (1982-2020), who left us too soon, by doing what we do best: providing access to education and opportunity to young people most in need. Eric loved his family, friends, and the great outdoors, and he was a friend to wildlife and children everywhere.

When schools closed, we consulted specialists in the fields of science, math, art therapy and special education to develop online photography lessons and activities that support creativity and emotional well-being. The curricula includes theoretical and practical photography instruction along with valuable life skills sessions. 

We also created an all-new Storytelling curriculum, led by Gaireyah Fredericks, an award-winning author, poet and playwright in Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa.

Since its inception, ECOL has provided 5000+ hours of instruction to more than 150 students. Our Partners are established, community-based organizations that share our values of Empowerment, Stewardship, Integrity, Excellence, and Innovation. Another common thread is a desire to create a peaceful future for our children. We applaud these Partners in Africa:

  • CineLab Akademie, in Uganda, works with refugees to raise their voice in advocacy for peace by creating photographs and short films. This year we trained 25 students in the art of storytelling using their mobile phone cameras. CineLab founder, Dennis Onen, noted our impact: “The phone photography class has awakened a new perspective of creativity among the trainees.”
  • Komb Green Solutions, in Kenya, has transformed a littered and crime-ridden riverside area into a beautiful safe space with an urban garden and playground. Photo Start is teaching their team to document and share their stories in order to inspire revitalization in other communities.
  • And in South Africa, we partner with MCM Miqlat, whose vision is to build peaceful, sustainable families and communities. Many of our MCM Students are former gang members who come to us for professional skills that can lead to legitimate employment.


The ECOL program has been so successful that we are receiving more Partner requests than we can handle. This is where you come in.

Eric’s light is uplifting and guiding our students a future in focus. You can power up the light with a donation today.

Photography is nothing without light. Photo Start is nothing without YOU. Thank you for contributing to our many success stories in 2021. May your new year be filled with peace, love, and light.