In 1994, Walter gathered some ideas and friends and started a summer photography program to give a few vulnerable Seattle teens something positive in their lives. As a result, 14 youths completed the first 10-week session of Youth in Focus. New ideas and more friends began to look for new ways to make the next summer’s program better. Today, this nationally-recognized program has afternoon and summer sessions and serves nearly 200 participants each year.
During his 30-year teaching career in Compton, California, Walter would ask, “What is the big difference that makes one young person become a successful orthopedic surgeon, and the one who sat next to him in class is dead or in jail before the age of 20?” The answer always was found with an adult who took time to care and support. The adults who are involved at YIF continue the mission to encourage the young people. The photographs are secondary.
When not traveling, Walter lives in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood with his wife, Lynne, and dog, Candy.