Lansing, Mich. (WILX) A place to sleep, a free camera, and a program to capture hopes and dreams. One of those dreams has come true for a homeless teenager featured in a Special Report we brought you this month called "Pictures of Hope."
17 year-old Autumn Cardinal is homeless. But she's now planning to head off to a private college in Indiana thanks to a program called Pictures of Hope.
Well-known photojournalist Linda Solomon's program travels to homeless shelters across the country showing kids that the camera can capture their homes and dreams.
Autumn participated in the program through Gateway Youth Services and Child and Family Charities. One of her photos looks up into the trees. She captioned it "My dream is to have a higher education." On Tuesday, she learned that photograph would help earn her a full-ride college scholarship.
Ken McClure: You're the first recipient of the Hope Scholarship (clapping) Autumn cries: "Thank you...I will compose myself."
McClure was Autumn's mentor in the Pictures of Hope program. He also works for Kroger, which sponsors the program. So it was fitting that he presented her with the scholarship to Blackburn College in Illinois.
McClure said, "I think that you have an extraordinary talent and a wonderful story to tell and the education you're going to receive from Blackburn is going to help you do that better and more powerfully and with greater reach than I think you ever imagined." Autumn: "Thank you." Ken McClure: "Congratulations." Autumn: Thank you."
Linda Solomon, Pictures of Hope, said, "We need to show these kids your dreams matter and with these beautiful photographs they do realize that people care, they do realize that their dreams are important and their future is important."
Autumn says her faith in God has been with her through a rough two years in her life. "I moved into Gateway because it, this is so weird, it wasn't the first homeless shelter that I called, it was the first one that answered and so that was like a sign from God and so I just went there and I was there for a couple months and then they told me about the Pictures of Hope thing."
Autumn never thought much about her future. We asked her where she'd like to be in ten years. She said, "Alive. I'm being like serious. I've been surviving for a long time, so alive."