On March 29, 2001, at the suggestion of Santa Fe photographer and adoptive mother Cathy Maier Callanan, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department brought the expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" to life at the nation’s first Heart Gallery exhibit. The reception at Santa Fe’s Gerald Peters Gallery drew a crowd of people inspired by stirring portraits of children in CYFD custody who were dreaming of finding their "forever families." The portraits were created and donated by some of the region’s most talented photographers. 

In 2004, Mary and Wayne St. John read about New Mexico’s Heart Gallery and decided it would be perfect to start a similar initiative here in Charlotte. Since they owned a photography business and had adopted three children of their own, who better to head such a wonderful project.

Each year since then, Wayne and many other talented photographers in Charlotte shoot portraits of children awaiting adoption. A gallery exhibit is held so families can view photos of these beautiful souls, and hopefully, awareness is raised about this ongoing need to find homes for older and hart to place children.