Photography project focuses on ‘humanity’ of homelessness in Cedar Rapids

KCRG-TV9's Mollie Swayne met with the Wills Dady photographer to learn why his pictures mean so much.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 10:33 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A Cedar Rapids man is using his passion for photography to tell the stories of a nonprofit that helps those experiencing homelessness.

That includes both those who receive help and those working at Willis Dady who give it.

Jason Everett’s official title at Willis Dady is Development Coordinator—the photography is something extra he does when he gets the chance. The project is also something he thinks can help people removed from the issue of homelessness understand it better.

“This is an organization that, their sole purpose is, you know, caring for people,“ Everett said.

Everett documents the many different forms that caring can take: chess games during an activity hour, a haircut, a barbeque, and scenes of clients’ tents. Even those who don’t work directly with clients; Everett documents their efforts, too.

“We have maintenance guys who, you know, they’re working and repairing houses rooms that, you know, our clients are going to be living in,” Everett said.

Everett has only worked at Willis Dady for about four months now, but already he’s learned a lot.

“Before I started working at Willis Dady, I kind of represented like a lot of people who had, you know, misconceptions and preconceived notions of, you know, people who are homeless and how people become homeless,” Everett said. “And since I’ve worked here in the four months, you know, I’ve come to learn that there’s a lot of layers of the onion.”

Everett hopes in the future, when he has more material, to put together a display or exhibition for the public to empathize with those going through hardship, to “give them an opportunity to identify with you know, the humanity of the people that we’re serving.”

“I think that’s one of the reasons why I love photography, and journalism, you know, because it kind of gives you like, an inroad and license, you know, to, like, kind of connect with people. And I think it validates that people are important,” Everett said.