Steve Lemon has always loved working with people. But when the 70-year-old Vienna resident retired from his work as a family and marriage therapist four years ago, he needed to find some way of retaining his passion for nurturing relationships.
"I wanted something to do," said Lemon. "One of the reasons that I became a family therapist is that I love working with people, and I wanted to do it with something that I’m interested in."
Lemon didn’t have to look far.
"I’m basically a techie," he said with a laugh, "almost a nerd, but not quite."
An aficionado of photography and film-making for almost his entire life, Lemon decided to put his hobby of producing, shooting and editing videos to work for the community by organizing local pictorial family histories and volunteering as a teacher and videographer for several Vienna community organizations over the last three years.
USING HIS PROFESSIONAL-grade equipment to film Vienna Community Center symposiums and events hosted by the Vienna-based non-profit organization The Shepherd’s Center, Lemon has reinserted himself in a role of working to bring people closer together, according to Shepherd’s Center executive director Carol Downs.
"Steve has a way of just making people so relaxed and putting them right at ease" as a videographer, said Downs. "I would say that he has really been able to capture the spontaneity of our events … he has been our official photographer now for quite some time and has just done an excellent job at it."
He has taken his knowledge of audio and video technology to patrons of the Vienna Community Center in other ways as well. Lemon works to share his video knowledge in several video equipment tutorials designed for senior citizens every year as well as providing the technical support for community center movie nights.
"Just being able to come out and share his knowledge and passion of this technology is a great benefit to us," said Cheryl Harlan, senior program coordinator for the Vienna Community Center. "It’s all about the social connections that he provides for us by allowing us to have these types of events."
IN BOTH HIS WORK as an event cameraman and with his side job where he is contracted to organize and edit family photo albums onto DVDs — he uses the money to purchase his camera equipment — Lemon has been able to satisfy his desire to strengthen families and relationship, he said.
Lemon is reminded of the joy that the simplest family photograph can bring every time he sits down with his family to watch their personal DVD, the first Lemon produced. He was so interested in seeing their reactions to the video, he recorded the first time his extended family viewed it together.
"Smiles, laughter, this video I made of my family watching it and seeing that in their faces, it shows me why I do this all right there," he said. "It’s just reminding people who they are and how they go to where they are today."
An organization that is based on bringing services to senior citizens, The Shepherd’s Center recognizes the value of someone with a talent for bringing out the individual stories of some of its benefactors, Downs said.
"A lot of people will look at an older person and just see an older person, and you don’t always know that there is a very interesting story behind them," she said. "Steve just has a great gift of bringing that story out and capturing it and sharing it with others."
FOR LEMON, his volunteer work serving the community is simply a continuation of a lifelong goal to improve and strengthen relationships between people by putting his skills and passions to practical uses.
"I think [his work] helps to give people a frame of reference about their lives and their accomplishments," said Downs. "It helps people to remember the good times and really who they are."
As people continue to age, helping residents to retain and revel in those memories becomes more of a priority, Lemon said.
"I think as you get older you tend to see the past as more important," he said. "We all want to see our histories and how we will leave our mark on our family.
"I just think this helps to capture people’s characters for their families so that they’re remembered as they truly are."