Furman art students create portraits for Birthright

Students in Professor Mike May’s art class at Furman University draw portraits for new moms at Birthright of Greenville. (Provided)

GREENVILLE—A hand-drawn portrait of your baby or toddler can become a family treasure; an heirloom that parents will cherish forever. But if those parents are struggling daily to keep up with basic needs — food, shelter, endless amounts of diapers and wipes — that kind of luxury is not even on their list.  

Thanks to a member of the Furman art faculty, baby portraits became an early Christmas gift for 24 clients of Birthright of Greenville as part of Professor Mike May’s project for his drawing class.  

“Women in crisis pregnancies are not always treated with a lot of respect and dignity,” May said. “I wanted to do something that would contribute more to that.”  

Shay shows off the portrait she received of her children, Duncan and Niya. (Provided)

He gave his students the option of doing a self-portrait, or a drawing of a child that was born to a mother in need and who had turned to Birthright. Every student chose the baby. When there turned out to be more baby pictures than students, he had no trouble recruiting additional volunteers from among the art majors at Furman.

Meg Kocher, Birthright director, invited May to the center before Thanksgiving to deliver the portraits. He was also able to present a drawing of baby Duncan to his mother, Shay, and big sister, Niya.

Shay was thrilled when she saw the picture of Duncan, and Niya exclaimed, “it looks just like him!”

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the drawings are framed, matted and ready to hang. Birthright also gave the other 23 mothers their special gift during this Christmas season.

Kocher could not have been more excited to offer this unique and lasting gift along with the many other services that Birthright already provides.  

“This goes far beyond the type of help and support we are generally able to provide,” she said. “It is a blessing to us and the families we serve that Mike and his students [gave] their time and talent to these families in a unique, beautiful, and lasting way.”

By Fran Eckert