Foster care children star in Hicksville photography exhibit

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Foster care children on Long Island and New York City seeking adoption will be featured in a Hicksville photography exhibition that starts Wednesday.

The Heart Gallery NYC exhibit of 36 children, to be held at the Broadway Mall shopping center, ends Sept. 17. The images were taken by professional photographers to help area agencies find adoptive homes for the youngsters -- some of whom will soon age out of the system when they turn 21.

"Before, I was so involved with my career," said participating photographer Deborah Feingold of Manhasset, whose book of photography is due out in October. "I volunteered a lot, mostly with children. So doing this was a perfect synthesis for me."

After the 11 a.m. launch of the exhibit and a news conference Wednesday, Suffolk and Nassau community colleges will present a workshop for some of the youths involved in the photography exhibit and others, officials said. The workshop is aimed at reinforcing the value of a good education and life skills for those at risk of aging out of the foster system.

The mall display "is the first large-scale Heart Gallery exhibit on Long Island," said Laurie Sherman Graff, head of the gallery she founded. Similar photography exhibits have been held in Manhattan.

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The Heart Gallery connects the artistic talents of prominent photographers with foster care children seeking adoption.

"We are excited to introduce prospective families to the youth that we service, in the hopes that they will open their hearts and homes to the children," Graff said.

Other entities involved in the event include the Manhattan-based Spence-Chapin Adoption Services, Amityville-based Hope for Youth, the Broadway Mall and the Hicksville Macaroni Kid website, a resource for mothers to learn of events for kids and families in and around Hicksville. Hope For Youth focuses on foster care.

"Working towards reunification with relatives, permanent placement through adoption or self-sufficiency is the goal," said David Hegarty, who heads Hope for Youth. "A recent focus is on recruitment of Spanish-speaking foster parents to meet our growing demand."

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