In the era of quarantine and social distancing, the Whitehurst community found a creative and fun outlet to build neighborhood togetherness.
In March, Jennifer Lee Kraus, a Whitehurst resident and photography teacher at Old Mill High School, was browsing Facebook when she came across a national trend known as The Front Porch Project. This activity encourages families to set up an interesting scene on their front porch to alleviate the monotony of quarantine during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Combining her love of her neighborhood and her love of photography, Kraus decided to bring the project to the community.
On March 29, Kraus informed Whitehurst of the project via the community Facebook page. She gave families five days to develop an idea and set up a scene. To encourage participation, Kraus offered the winner a professional photoshoot, and she posted a poll online for people to vote for their favorite picture.
To her delight, more than 50 families participated. “I started taking pictures at 4:00pm and didn’t get done until 7:30pm,” Kraus remarked.
At the end of the poll, more than 200 votes were received. The most votes went to the Martin family: Chad and Christina, and their three children, Stetson, Sullenger and Sutton. Their “COVID date night” themed photo depicts Chad and Christina sitting at a dinner table, dressed in their finest evening clothes. Everyday household items like Purell and Lay’s potato chips cover the table. Amazon packages are scattered on the ground. The children are tied up to one side. Christina said the family just used items around their house, and only took 20 minutes to set up. She got the idea because date nights, a once regular activity, are now much harder because of the lockdown.
The best part, according to Christina, was the kids’ reactions. “We didn’t know what their expressions were until we saw the pictures,” she noted.
Russ and Carol Gildersleeve received the second most votes with their “American gothic” look. Carol chose the theme because it is an iconic American image.
“This is a community that does all kinds of things together,” she said. “This project was another way of bringing Whitehurst folks together.”