Two area nonprofits – Open Roads and Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center – took top honors in Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s Amateur Photography Contest.

This first-ever contest sought to illustrate the Community Foundation’s values and priorities in action through area nonprofits.

"Community Ride," photographed by Erin Denay and submitted by Open Roads, won the Community Choice Award. Open Roads, whose mission is to teach youth bike mechanic skills and social skills to better prepare them for their future, will receive $500.

"Community Ride" - Open Roads Bike Program
Photographed by Erin Denay

"This year we started hosting monthly bike rides along the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail," says Denay. "Eastside Youth Strong works with the Kalamazoo Nature Center to get kids outside playing and enjoying nature. These boys did not have a bicycle to ride when Eastside Youth Strong joined us for a ride, and KNC brought enough bikes so that any student would be able to ride with us. These boys had fun."

"Not Alone," photographed by Mary Garrod and submitted by Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center, won the KZCF Staff Choice Award. KDCCC – which provides income eligible families with children ages 0-5, free, part-time, educationally-rich child care, along with parent education and support – will receive $500.

"Not Alone" - Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center
Photographed by Mary Garrod

According to Garrod, "KDCCC helps to create a sense of community, of not being alone, and lessens the isolation that some of our parents’ experience. KDCCC also relieves some of the stresses our parents feel in being low-income and having young children. This mom comes to the child care to help her shy little girl be more comfortable around other people. She stays with her child and volunteers while working on speaking and understanding English."

Garrod also photographed "The Joy of a Story," submitted by KDCCC, which brings a prize of $1,000 to the nonprofit agency. The Grand Prize was selected by guest juror Belinda Tate of Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

"The Joy of a Story" - Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center
Photographed by Mary Garrod

"Often children from low-income families are not exposed to a literacy-rich environment," says Garrod. "KDCCC helps introduce the joy of hearing a story from our youngest infants through our preschoolers."

The Community Foundation thanks participating photographers and agencies.

David Feaster, Community Investment Officer and contest coordinator, says the many powerful pictures submitted made the judging very difficult. "We're thrilled that these winning photographs, along with all of the other submissions, will now adorn our walls here at the Community Foundation. Seeing the photos everyday reminds us how important the work of local nonprofits is. It also gives our staff a chance to show off the amazing working being done in our community, when we have visitors in our building."