The Iron Gate soup kitchen has added a new twist to its mission of feeding the hungry. The downtown soup kitchen has put together an exhibit of photographs called "The Faces of Iron Gate."
Its purpose is give hunger and homelessness an identity beyond the statistics.
When Tony Hall was in college he wanted to be a counselor. That was years ago. Dino McCombs wanted to grow up and be a fireman before bad choices got in the way.
There are also kids who live with their grandmother - not homeless but sometimes hungry.
What they all have in common: they are regulars at Tulsa's Iron Gate soup kitchen and food pantry, and they are part of a new photography exhibit "The Faces of Iron Gate."
"I think when we think of the homeless, we think of them as faceless, we want to look away," said Teresa Valero.
Valero is a professor of art and graphic design at the University of Tulsa. The exhibit, she says, is a way to give the homeless and hungry an identity, to make them human. Valero organized the exhibit, gathered half a dozen other photographers. They all began taking pictures.
"These are part of our community; these are people who live here," said Connie Cronley. "They happen to be hungry; they happen to be homeless."
That was the purpose of the exhibit, to put a face on the statistics. Iron Gate is one of several agencies offering food assistance in Tulsa.
The need is increasing both Oklahoma and Tulsa rank in the top 10 nationally for food hardship. Iron Gate alone serves hundreds of meals every morning of every day.
They've published a booklet with a few photos and a bit of the story about each.
"I think what we are trying to accomplish with the exhibit is: the next time you see somebody on the street or by the side of the road, just look at them, and say hello," Cronley said.
This traveling exhibit is available for display elsewhere at no cost. If you are interested, contact Iron Gate through its web site.