Pvsp Lance Pearce

Lance Pearce, founder of the homeless aid program Portraits of Hope, talks to PVSP inmates.

By PVSP Staff

The story of one Selma man’s quest to change how homelessness is viewed caught the attention of Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) Youth Adult Awareness Program (YAAP) inmates on Facility D.

After YAAP inmates consulted with Facility D staff, PVSP asked  Lance Pearce, founder of Portraits of Hope, to speak to them. Portraits of Hope is a Selma-based ministry that is reaching out to the homeless on the streets of Selma and Fresno, CA.

Pearce was invited to PVSP Facility D last month to share his story and the story of Portraits of Hope.

Portraits of Hope is a ministry that focuses on the homeless. Portraits of Hope came to be when Pearce talked to a homeless man he saw on the streets in Fresno.

He saw the man several times in the same day and felt he was called to approach the man and have a conversation. The conversation resulted in prayer and a photograph.

After receiving permission from the homeless man, Bob, Pearce published the photograph and shared Bob’s story on his Facebook page. Bob’s portrait and story was the seedling that grew into Portraits of Hope.

Sharing the portraits of the homeless gives them a name, captures their humanity and sharing their story allows viewers insight into the homeless person’s circumstances.

Pearce said: “What people don’t realize; we are all just one wrong choice, one bad day, one bad decision away from where these people are.”

Some of the homeless people Pearce has encountered have had negative interaction with law enforcement and with Fresno’s recent ban on homeless camping many homeless people speak of distrust of law enforcement.

At these moments Pearce chooses to reveal that he is a Selma Police Officer and that he cares and wants to help. He hopes that breaking his anonymity might encourage people to be open to a new opinion of law enforcement.

After a long conversation and a portrait, Pearce leaves his new acquaintance with a care package full of goodies.

He has enlisted the help of a friend to assemble the care packages that contain snacks, hygiene products, a bible and a gift card to a local dollar store. Each care package is valued around $25, which comes from Pearce’s own earnings and donations he receives.

Pearce’s presentation on Facility D included a slide show of all the portraits of people he has met throughout his ministry. PVSP Television Specialist T. Andrade assisted Pearce in converting his portraits to a screen show that played in the back ground as Pearce shared the stories of some of his portrait subjects.

Facility D inmates were quick to offer their support and announced their willingness to donate the proceeds of their next food sale to Portraits of Hope.