GREENFIELD — At first, Kim Bonaiuto resisted having her photo taken — even though it was for an important cause.
“I saw some of the other women getting their picture taken and I said, ‘No.’ Then they started to encourage me to get my picture done,” recalled Bonaiuto, who ultimately became one of a group of women who took part in the “Portraits of Recovery: the Women of Two Rivers,” an exhibit on display at Greenfield Savings Bank for the month of March.
These women, new mothers recovering from addiction, were in the Two Rivers Recovery Center, a 25-bed facility for women and their infants up to a year old, a program offered by the Community for Human Development of Springfield.
Bonaiuto said Two Rivers saved her life. She said she graduated from the program two weeks ago, leaving with resources and a network of women in the area to help continue in her recovery. Her hope is that photo exhibit will help others who are struggling with addiction.
“I hope the photos can let people know there is help out there, they just have to reach out,” Bonaiuto said. “It’s possible to get better.”
The exhibit’s photographer, Jessie Sutherland of Palmer, said she’s an art teacher by trade, and she has photographed her family mostly.
This is her first photo series and exhibition. She volunteered to do a photo series because her husband, a CHD employee, told her about the women at Two Rivers Recovery Center.
“I recently got into taking portraits and heard about these women,” Sutherland said. “These photos commemorate a turning point for them. We photograph many commemorative events — birthdays, graduations, weddings — and this series gives them something to remember that.”
She said the process of taking the photos was collaborative; the women would decide how they wanted to pose, what props they wanted in the image and where they wanted the photo to be taken.
Sutherland said one of the realizations she had at the end of the series was how important the photos were to each subject.
“You can see that some of them weren’t feeling great about themselves, but when they saw themselves on the camera some of them felt like a start or that they didn’t look as bad as they thought they would,” Sutherland said. “They got a boost of confidence they may not have expected. It was uplifting to be part of that.”
President and CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank, John Howland, said after hearing about the photo series he thought the lobby would be a great place to put it on display.
“Our branches are open to displays, and this exhibit was perfect to put up after our Black History month display came down,” Howland said. “So many people come through this branch, and having the display up will expose them to this exhibit. They can see how the community is helping people with addiction in a beautiful way.”
The bank also donated $1,000 to Two Rivers.
During a program at the bank on Wednesday, CHD’s President and CEO, Jim Goodwin, said the photos help to give a face for addiction and recovery.
“The stigma can be so bad people don’t get treatment as soon as they should or they feel guilty,” Goodwin said. “These beautiful photos are part of the process to bring attention to the great need for services in our state and country.”