Haitian Student’s Childhood Hunger Essay Provides Inspiration to Local Short-Film Documentary Producer

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Filmmaker Lance Oppenheim produces “Open Your Eyes”, a short film documentary about a national epidemic in America.

Award winning filmaker, Lance Oppenheim produces "Open Your Eyes" a short film about a national epidemic in America

Award winning filmaker, Lance Oppenheim produces "Open Your Eyes" a short film about a national epidemic in America.

“Holly’s story was such an inspiration I felt it needed to be told in a way that would bring much needed attention to the subject of childhood hunger in America."
- Lance Oppenheim

For many children living in America, hunger is something they read about in books, newspapers or online. But for Holly Joseph, hunger is something he saw all around him while living in Haiti and nearly experienced himself when he came to this country.

Joseph’s story was such an inspiration to Lance Oppenheim, a 17-year-old, award-winning short filmmaker, that he decided to tell it in a short film he created called "Open Your Eyes."

Oppenheim also is co-founder of the Opp-Guide, which sponsored a hunger essay Contest titled “How to End Childhood Hunger in America.” That contest was inspired by the generation On What Will You Bring to the Table initiative, which calls on kids and teens to take action to address childhood hunger in the U.S.

“I have made films about many tough subjects including Alzheimer’s, animal abuse and 9/11,” said Oppenheim. “Holly’s story was such an inspiration I felt it needed to be told in a way that would bring much needed attention to the subject of childhood hunger in America.”

Joseph, a fourth grader at Norland Elementary School in Miami, was the winner and received a check for $250 and a pizza party for his classmates. He was among 126 students in 4 states to enter.

“Holly Joseph is a wonderful student. He came here from Haiti not speaking the language. He learned how to speak and write in English in two years, which is totally amazing,” Norland Elementary Principal Karen Powers, explains in the film.

Every day, one in five children in America go hungry and were it not for the National School Breakfast and School Lunch programs, many would not get a healthy meal each day.

At Norland Elementary, close to 90 percent of the students come to school for breakfast and 92 percent receive either a free or reduced price lunch. Most of the school’s population comes from Haiti, Jamaica or the Bahamas.

Joseph’s mother, Marie, explains in the film how she came to the U.S. seeking a better life for her son, who she describes as a modest and quiet young man.

“I was almost a hungry kid if it wasn’t for God and my mother helping me,” explains Joseph. “She has been pushing me forward in school so I can have a good future.”

The film was co-produced by the Opp-Guide -- a nonprofit organization that connects youth nationwide with service opportunities -- as part of its ongoing mission to spotlight important social missions and can be viewed on Vimeo.

About Lance Oppenheim:

Born and raised in South Florida, Lance is a 17-year-old, award-winning filmmaker who directs, produces, and edits short films. A number of Lance's films have been commissioned by various national, non-profit organizations, including frequent collaborator, The Opp-Guide to Community Service. During his summers, Lance works for The Weinstein Company and Hasbro/Universal Studios in Los Angeles, CA. While in L.A., Lance also collaborates on various independent projects.

About The Opp-Guide:

Founded in South Florida in 2004, the Opp-Guide helps youth locate service opportunities they find interesting so they can continue to serve their community. In 2011, the Opp-Guide Mobile App was developed and is available for free at the iTunes store. The app allows anyone to search a nationwide directory of nearly 300,000 nearby community service opportunities.

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