Heart, Family, Soul

“Only from the heart, can you touch the sky.” – Rumi

Soulumination, founded by Lynette Huffman Johnson, is one of the most authentic, impactful non-profit organizations I have ever encountered. Not because it is a large organization, but because it is unique in its mission and service. I have worked with literally hundreds of non-profits locally, nationally and internationally in my twenty years of consulting in non-profit foundations and organizations, and it is rare to encounter a founder that is solely focused on the population she serves. For the past six years, my experience with Soul has been nothing but pure heart and soul, focusing on the “Soul” families and their needs. Lynette is not interested in growing her organization to a huge scale, or in receiving any personal recognition. Her mission and vision is egoless and driven from a pure desire to come from the heart and support grieving families throughout the Puget Sound region and beyond. I am truly honored to be part of her graceful movement of love and support.

Soulumination celebrates the lives of children and parents facing life-threatening conditions by providing professional photographs, free of charge, of these special individuals and their families. The life-affirming photographs of Soulumination are an enduring, positive record of the child’s brief life, and provide a loving legacy for the children of parents lost to terminal illness. Soulumination was founded by Lynette 6 years ago, and has served over 660 families. We have over 35 volunteer photographers on board that have done 734 shoots to present day. Additionally, “Soul” has over 100 community volunteers who help us further our mission.

I have known Lynette for 16 years. She has been photographing my children since they were born. Most recently, she photographed my wedding. I became a part of Soul when she photographed my dear friend Jules, (a mother of 3) that died at the age of 42 from liver cancer.

I have been on the Board of Soul for 3 years and now I am proud to be the President of Soulumination’s Board of Directors. I am a perfect example of how Soulumination engages their “Soul Families” and volunteers. I am inspired to give back, to take action and to come from my heart and serve the world.The photographs that Soulumination provides for families are a true gift. I lost my father when I was 16 years old – that was 27 years ago. To this day, I cling to the few pictures I have of him. Photos are memories for family members to cherish for lifetimes after their loved ones have passed.

Please take a few minutes to read an interview with Lynette about her experience of Soulumination and its evolution.

Why did you start Soulumination? What was its evolution?

“I started Soul without any thought, an opportunity presented itself where I could offer my services free of charge to families who were served by the Palliative Care Unit at Seattle Children’s. I knew to offer this because of the loss of my niece Lanie and my dear friend’s son, Janus. That small start at the hospital must have been about 9 years ago and it become public in 2005 due to the People Magazing article which brought so much attention that a nonprofit needed to be formed. From working only with children we moved to working with adults when I lost 3 lovely young moms.”

What do you love about Soulumination? What ways do you see it impact families and people?

“I love Soul because it takes the idea that we all cherish the photos of our family into a realm that is more poignant than most of us will ever have to tread…..it allows those of us who photograph for Soul to offer our talent in a way that is powerful and meaningful without asking for compensation, its a gift that has more meaning than anything you could possibly purchase. Daily we receive letters, emails, facebook messages from families thanking us for the work we do. The same people offer to volunteer their time to help us in so many ways, from addressing mailings, to creating the albums and trifold gifts for other families, to making wreaths for our sale, serve on our board, etc.. Families we serve also regularly donate money or ask their friends to support us financially. These things seem to me to be a big sign that they value what was given to them.”

How has Soul impacted you personally?

“Soul has forced me to become a much better employer, and leader. If I want Soul to stay strong and active I must build an organization that will last beyond my lifetime. It has given me a perspective on my life that allows me to be more thankful and grateful for each day. It has possibly made me more reclusive, taking time to center myself and find ways to handle the grief and pressure that comes with the work of Soulumination. It certainly has shown me all that it takes to make a nonprofit function well so I have new respect for other organizations.”

What is a favorite memory you would like to share?

“Spending time with a couple of the teenagers, Chris and Marin that I photographed for Soul with Husky quarterback Jake Locker. That day brought together 3 people that would most likely have never met. Chris was so funny that day with his usual quips that it was magic. Now that both of my young friends, Chris and Marin have died, it makes me laugh to myself remembering the fun that Soul brought to all of us that day……………..or the day I received the beautiful card and $1200 donation that was the savings account of my young friend Sydney, her parents explaining that they knew she would want other young people to have Soul photos.”

Marin with Jake Locker

Sydney and her dog. The young girl that saved $1,200 and when she passed her parents donated the money to Soulumination.

Soulumination to me is pure HEART. The tears flow with gratitude for all of the love that it has provided for those of us that are still here and those of us that have passed.

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About the Author | Lynette Johnson

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