Capturing Timeless Moments with Sweet Nectar Society
Jan 02, 2015 01:21AM
● By Brandi Barnett
A Time to HealJanuary 2015
By Fache Desrochers
Photo courtesy of Sweet Nectar Society
Sweet Nectar Society co-founder Brittany Wilbur radiates a generosity of spirit. Her sweet, slightly musical voice is always gentle, but occasionally, a note of deep conviction creeps in, which is when you know you are dealing with someone who truly knows what she is talking about. “The best way to heal is to help others,” Wilbur says with certainty. Her tone says that one can take this statement to the bank. But it is Sweet Nectar Society — an organization dedicated to healing people’s spirits with art, and their bodies with food — that shows that one can take this statement to heart.
Wilbur has always been a visual person. She studied visual communications and graphic design at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, but found herself feeling limited by the corporate feel of this medium. So in 2008, she switched her focus and began her photography career with a job at a Fresno studio. But something was still missing. “I love taking pictures and I love meeting families, but I wanted something more,” says Wilbur.
That something more came in a truly life-changing form: that of Wilbur’s first daughter, who developed an unknown health issue at age 1. “As a photographer, my natural instinct is to capture every moment because they are all precious,” says Wilbur. “And during that time of uncertainty where we didn’t know what was wrong, that instinct really intensified. I suddenly learned how important pictures can be.”
Happily, what was affecting Wilbur’s daughter turned out to be manageable, and she has grown into a happy, healthy child. But the experience was an eye-opener for Wilbur, who knew that all families aren’t as fortunate. It was then that she developed the idea to start a photo ministry, to gift love to families through beautiful photographs of their children, and to raise awareness for children with serious illnesses and disabilities.
As soon as this mission took root in Wilbur’s mind, it started to realize itself, almost magically. That very evening, Wilbur was approached by a woman who was looking for someone to photograph her family, as her young daughter had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. Taking this as a sign that her vision should be pursued, Wilbur approached her friend, photographer and philanthropist Carrie Anne Miranda. As the daughter of two cancer survivors who was now a mother herself, Miranda needed no convincing, and Sweet Nectar Society was founded. “She’s my better half,” Wilbur says of Miranda. “From the very beginning, she’s been with me every step of the way.”
One particularly wonderful side effect of the Society has been its function as a meeting place for families facing similar struggles. Through Sweet Nectar Society, many families have had the opportunity to connect and offer support to each other. One of these families is Art and Roze Wille, who met Wilbur and Miranda when they were looking for someone to document the beauty of their son Hendrix after he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Because of their experience, the Willes brought something new to the attention of Sweet Nectar Society: that families staying in the hospital while their children are treated for serious illnesses do not always have access to food, and sometimes go for days without eating. So with the help of the Willes, Sweet Nectar Society launched Sweet Eats, a program that supplies food to families in need during their stay in the hospital. So far, Sweet Eats has been realized as a food delivery service and a pantry room in the oncology unit at Valley Children’s Hospital. “The parents get a keycode, and we stock the kitchen every week,” explains Wilbur. “It’s just taking that expense and burden off the families when their child is sick. It allows them to walk down the hallway, only be gone for a minute, grab something to eat, and then get back to their child.” Sweet Eats is as practical as it is prescient, knowing that a parent in such a situation needs both the physical nourishment of food and the spiritual nourishment of knowing that someone is looking out for their needs.
As the loving reach of Sweet Nectar Society continues to expand, Wilbur has nothing but gratitude for what has transpired, and enthusiasm for what’s ahead. “I have no words to express how grateful I am for all the people that have come forward to help us,” says Wilbur. “Now, the sky’s the limit to what we can do.”
To nominate a child for the services of this organization, to make a donation, or to contribute to the Sweet Eats program, please visit Sweet Nectar Society on the web.
Sweet Nectar Society • (559) 408-5949 • www.sweetnectarsociety.org