Faith can be hard to come by in the rubbled aftermath of catastrophe, the recent hurricanes have taught us that. The cost of life and damage is high: so far, Irma has taken at least 32 lives (27 confirmed across the Caribbean and five in Florida), and Harvey took over 70 total. Then there’s the price of combined repairs, which could add up to $290 billion. While Hurricane Irma is still passing through, victims of Harvey are trying to get back on their feet and look forward to a long yet forthcoming recovery. One family from Orange, Texas, has lifted spirits thanks to a little bundle of joy. Her name is Hope Chimeno — and she’s spreading it to those who need it most.
Levi and Emily Chimeno, threatened by floodwaters, boarded a rescue boat with their three children — a daughter, son and 10-day-old Hope. They were taken to Lake Charles, Louisiana by the Sanford brothers, Cris and Clint, both in the Cajun Navy. It was Cris’ wife Katy who insisted on connecting the Chimenos to her photographer friend Noelle Mills.
Mills, 32, said that providing them with her services was exactly the right thing to do. “I don’t have a lot of time or money,” Mills told TODAY, “but what I can give is my photography.”
It was the perfect opportunity to take newborn photos. So on Labor Day, in the spirit of optimism, Hope posed with traditional life vests and the rescue boat that took her family away from the wreckage back home. “It’s a story of triumph,” said Mills. “In a heavy time, she’s a ray of sunshine.”
She wore a onesie that read, “I survived Hurricane Harvey,” and the results are truly touching.
The photographer told GoodHousekeeping.com that the Chimenos are already back in Texas and that they were “thankfully one of the few spared homes in their neighborhood.”
Mills said that the response has been incredible. She wants to spread a message “exactly as [the newborn’s] name says: Hope.” She added, “you are never too busy to give or donate your time.”
Though readjusting to life after such tragedy is daunting, there’s nothing some pint-sized positivity can’t fix. The Chimenos call it “the Hope effect” — and it’s contagious.