This Oklahoma City man started out volunteering to help the homeless. He ended up documenting their stories through portraits

Great State
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - One picture shows Mike.

Some of the people on the street call him 'Old School.'

He's an ex-con who worked construction for a while but who's been camping out now for 17 years.

Another photograph shows Dante.

His friends on the street know him as 'Tiny,' a former PC Pirate football player once recruited to play in college but unable to get past his abusive upbringing.

He's been homeless now for at least seven months.

"For these folks," insists Jason Stover, "a little bit of help can go a long way."

In the past year, in walking the darker, lesser-traveled parts of Oklahoma City, Stover met and got to know these people, the intractable, the hard to help, the homeless living among us.

He says, "They started out as acquaintances but, honestly, over time, many of them have become my friends."

Stover shows up at this intersection just off Reno Avenue once a week for a service called Church Under the Bridge.

He volunteers at another spot for a program called Hot Dogs for Homeless.

Over time, over many conversations with people like Tommy Gant, who's spent most of his past year living out of a car, he also formed relationships that changed the way he feels about what each of them has gone through.

Gant tells us with confidence, "You know, I'm getting up every day. I'm still struggling but I know something has to break. There's going to be a door that opens."

As an amateur photographer, Stover gained enough trust to take portraits of the people he met.

He learned their stories and put them together in an exhibit called Imago Dei, Latin for 'in the image of God.'

Stover says, "The driving force behind this is that we're all created in the image of God. So all of us have inherent value, dignity, and worth."

For Jason, being able to put a face to a problem made it easier for him to keep coming out to help.

He's hoping this small exhibit will do the same for anyone else who truly looks at this issue like he did.

Stover's show "Imago Dei" officially opens at the CHK Boathouse on Saturday, January 18, 2020.

The CHK Boathouse is located at Riversport Drive in OKC

To see more of Jason's photos go to his Instagram page.

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