Senior portraits are a rite of passage. They are a milestone in a young person’s life. They can also be costly.

Some photographers charge a per-session fee. If you want your portrait taken at various locations, you can count on that costing more as well. Change your outfit? Cha-ching. Different poses? You get the idea.

So, what happens if you don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on one of the biggest moments in your life?

You hope you have someone who can help. That is exactly what Riverside County Department of Public Social Services did – five consecutive years.

The event, known as “High School Senior Portrait Day,” started five years ago with a dozen students. This year, 60 youth signed up. DPSS Children’s Services Regional Manager Michelle Wohl said returning caretakers who bring students from all over Riverside County helped the event grow.

This year DPSS signed a contract with Riverside County Regional Parks. With help from park rangers and Jensen Alvarado Ranch and Museum, foster youth teamed up with volunteers to spend the entire day preparing for senior pictures.

Volunteers Help Foster Youth with Senior PortraitsMakeup artists, hair stylists and photographers flocked to the historic Jensen Alvarado Ranch and Museum in Riverside earlier this month. They were among roughly 40 volunteers who helped create senior portraits for foster children preparing to graduate high school in May.

Volunteers Help Foster Youth with Senior Portraits

Melissa Sauceda

“It’s amazing,” said 18-year-old Melissa Sauceda, a senior at Rancho Verde High School. “All of us don’t have the support and money to do it ourselves. We don’t have our parents so just to have volunteers to do it for free is just a great feeling.”

Sauceda, 18, is a student at Val Verde Unified School District. She is the young woman featured in the senior pictures.

“It really gives us the opportunity to talk with the community about the awesome things that happen in child welfare,” Wohl said.

The foster youth ranged from age 17 to 20 and came from several school districts and communities across Riverside County, including Moreno Valley, Indio, Perris and Beaumont.

Volunteers Help Foster Youth with Senior Portraits

Melissa Sauceda

In Riverside County, there are approximately 4,000 children who have been removed from their families because of abuse, neglect or abandonment, according to DPSS. These children need love, consistency and commitment. They need you.

If you are committed to addressing the needs of your community, you can help make a critical difference by becoming an approved Resource Family. If you think you would like to share your home and family with a child and make a positive impact, please call to learn more. To obtain further information about becoming a Resource Family you may call 1-800-665-KIDS.



Image Sources

  • Melissa Sauceda: DPSS
  • Senior Portrait: DPSS
  • seniorportrait: DPSS