Sharing Our Story was born of a love for story - and a deep knowing of its power to bring people together in meaningful connection, to express and communicate vision, mission and purpose in powerfully real and human ways. Individual human stories must all have heart, purpose and meaning to have lasting power and impact.
Harnessing that heart, purpose, and meaning is what Sharing Our Story does best.
Stories bind us by creating a personal lens that helps us understand the “other”, creating empathy as we look at the individual experience rather than the labeling of the “group”, which can create misunderstanding and a lack of acceptance. When you think of the community we live in as a collection of individuals, the world is so much more interesting!
We help people tell their story in their own words… and through their own voice, using images they choose that also tell the story visually. These short 3 minute videos form a basis of public discussion highlighting the individual beyond the whole group. Creating personal empathy and understanding where once there was none.
Who better to tell their story than those who lived it?
These videos serve the world by promoting understanding.
Stories are the windows to our souls. When they are opened, we learn from each other and experience a special kind of empathy. When we listen to others speak, we derive meaning from so much more than words. We hear the emotions behind the words. While written words can certainly convey emotion and deliver with impact, one word, with a particular vocal expression precisely placed, can change the entire meaning of a sentence. In our increasingly visual and text-laden daily life, we still find so many instances where the visual image of the written words are eclipsed by the personal sound of the voice, the history, joy, sadness and emotional depth that a particular nuance in speech contains.
Sally Rafson has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, a Masters in International Economic and Social Development, and Teaching Certification as a Literacy Specialist . Her anthropology fieldwork includes research in Appalachia, West Africa, and Bridge Housing for Domestic Violence Victims in Pittsburgh.
She began her career as director of a community initiated housing program in Wilkinsburg. She has since worked with a variety of nonprofits in Toronto in consulting roles focused on organizational management, fundraising, and literacy development.
Sally was trained in digital storytelling facilitation by Volunteer Toronto, which used the method originally developed by StoryCenter. Sally created and managed Immigration Journeys: Old and New, a digital storytelling project focused on enabling newcomers and long- term residents to compose and tell their immigration stories using digital media, voice and photography. These stories were used to promote four public discussions. They have also been used in curated exhibits at the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh and the Westmoreland County Museum of American Art to highlight issues related to current and historical immigration.
Sally served as an adjunct faculty member in Duquesne University School of Education’s Literacy Block. Currently, she is working with Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA) as project manager of the Community Engagement Project, South Hills Libraries: Responding to Community Needs, a 3-year project funded by the Jefferson Regional Foundation.
Kara Sambrick is a professional photographer, photo editor and teaching artist. She has taught classes and workshops for non-profits such as Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Silver Eye Center for Photography, and Sweetwater Center for the Arts. Through her classes and workshops she helps students learn and share in her love for photography and video. Most recently she worked with ACLA as a media specialist for their Digital StoryTelling workshops. With them she helped refugees and US residents create videos that share their story about why they came to United States. Kara received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography from Point Park University and currently resides in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.
Andi Fischhoff has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Masters in Special Education/Early Childhood. She began a program in the '70s called Birth To Three, for new parents in Eugene, Oregon and, in Pittsburgh, served as development director for about 20 years at Family Resources, a nonprofit focused on child abuse prevention and treatment.
Retiring in 2011, she has since volunteered with a number of local nonprofit organizations, helping with proposal writing and organizational development. One of these organizations is the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh, which serves the Bhutanese refugee population in this region and whose partnership has been very valued in developing the digital storytelling project and extending its reach to other refugee and immigrant populations locally.
Sally Rafson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.