Giving Back to NYC Salt’s Rebekah Williams

The holiday season of 2020 seems far away but the optimism of 2021 is being felt right now! And drafting off of that energy, we wanted to share something special we started back in December.

In thinking about what our 2020 holiday gift would be, we knew we wanted to do something meaningful. When we asked our artists they all said, “Give Back.”  So we reached out to NYC Salt, a program for under-served youth in NYC to reach their potential through photography, video and an understanding of the visual arts. While they do not have a formal sponsorship program, we offered to cover what it costs for one student for one year.

The entire Heather Elder Represents family contributed to the gift and we donated it in our clients’ names. But in order to make it even more of a treat, we asked Rebekah to help us personalize it and we created small pieces of art to share as an added thank you.

The response we received was so positive and came at a time when we all needed the reminder of its power. Our renewed sense of optimism in 2021 inspired us to share what we created as well as an update on how our gift made a difference.

The following are the contents of the holiday gift and an update on Rebekah now.

The Letter We Sent To Our Clients

As someone who has spent a lifetime looking for the opportunities in the difficulties, 2020 has given me a lot to think about. But in sitting down to write this letter, I was filled with a renewed sense of gratitude when I reflected on the community to which we belong. Grateful for these people from whom I draw my strength — those who believe in the gift that it is to craft moments, to tell stories; and who do it for a living. That no one succeeds alone, that we are better together. And that without you, 2020 would have been a lot harder!

I also thought about all that has changed and how much we have learned from each other. From the pandemic to Black Lives Matter to the election to an uncertain future, the word empathy kept rising to the top. So when it came time to honor the last holiday season of the decade, I turned to those we represent and asked them what felt meaningful. No surprise, but everyone said, “Give back.”

What that means is that the Heather Elder Represents family will be making a donation in your name to sponsor a student for one year at NYC Salt — a non-profit organization whose mission is to engage, inspire, and empower underserved youth in New York City to reach their full potential through photography, video, and an understanding of the visual industry. So from our house to yours, we not only share the gift of giving back, but we also share with you these little pieces of art as a reminder that our passion for what we do pulls us through.

Have a lovely and safe holiday,

Heather Elder Represents
Andy, Brett, Cade, David, Dan, Doug, Hunter, Jason, Jennifer, Lupine, Tim, Lauranne, Kate, & Taya

“So, without further ado, meet Rebekah Williams, an advanced student at NYC Salt who is pursuing a dream to be a portrait photographer. Williams’ photography represents not only an homage to her love of people but an homage to her love of music and to poetry.

Rebekah’s college counselor describes her as “an old soul” and when she isn’t creating portraits, she is hanging with her friends and helping to care for her seven-year-old brother. When asked on her NYC Salt application what is her motivation, her answer was a window into her world.

“My motivation is myself because I’m not skinny, my skin isn’t clear, my hair isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t matter because I am my own person. I’m not what society wants me to be and that is okay.”

Rebekah is applying to Long Island University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Marymount Manhattan College. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, SUNY Purchase, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY New Paltz, Syracuse, and Temple. We can’t wait to see her photography passion ignite.”

Rebekah’s Poetry

Brown Skin Girl
As a black female in America, I fear anything and everything when I step outside of my house 
As a black female in America, I feel as if my freedom of movement is limited
As a black female in America, I feel as if my opportunities are limited
As a black female in America, I feel as if I have to wear my hair a certain way just to fit in
As a black female in America, my heart beats faster every time a white person stops me to talk, 
thinking they hate me already just because of the color of my skin
As a black female in America, I feel people think of me as loud, ghetto, 
and always angry when really, I just want my voice to be heard.
Watching all of these videos of police brutality has me thinking “Am I next?”
I pray to god every morning and night saying “please let me and my family live just one more day”
I make sure I text my stepdad “stay safe” and “I love you” 
when he’s out working not knowing if he’s gonna come back
People say that protesting won’t work yet Derek Chauvin’s murder charge increased 
People say that protesting won’t work yet Breonna Taylor’s case reopened
People say that protesting won’t work yet $100 million 
was reinvested into communities of color in LA
All of this happened in a week so you can never tell us that protesting is useless.
I am a brown skin girl, a beautiful brown skin girl
Hair that is not as simple as a brush and go
Full volume hair that takes hours to maintain
I am a brown skin girl, a beautiful brown skin girl
When people see me with earphones on, they assume 
I’m listening to hip hop when really it’s something from the 60’s
I am a brown skin girl, a beautiful brown skin girl
Queen Latifah, Issa Rae, Tierra Whack, Beyoncé, Janelle Monae and many other 
black females in the celebrity world have inspired me to keep being who I am.
I am a brown skin girl, a beautiful brown skin girl
And they’ll never take my power
— Rebekah Williams —

Awarding the Sponsorship

The team at Heather Elder Represents, including the photographers, had the honor of virtually meeting NYC Salt’s photography student, Rebekah Williams, and awarding her a year-long sponsorship for 2021. This was such a special time for our team, and an event that set the stage for the coming year, filled with hope.

An Update on Rebekah

The program that Rebekah is participating in, of course, focuses on photography where artists are creating a portfolio and refining their vision. However, another essential element of the program is college prep. Rebekah applied to many schools and has been accepted to several. She made her final choice and announced she will be attending Temple University in Philadelphia, PA! We are so excited for her! Congrats to Rebekah on all of the focus and determination. We can’t wait to see what comes next. In the meantime, here is some of her work for your enjoyment.

We will continue to provide updates on Rebekah’s journey and share more of her artistry. Follow Rebekah on Instagram to see more of her work as it develops.

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