Front Porch Project aims to connect shut-in neighbors

As we face another month of 'stay-at-home' orders, some may be feeling a lost sense of 'community'. But a growing effort to combat that, across the country, has taken hold in a northwest Harris County neighborhood.

The Front Porch Project is a collection of family snapshots, in this time of trouble, to help stay connected to our neighbors.

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Amateur photographer Mary Anne Heckman started reaching out to her Coles Crossing neighbors, as soon as she heard about it from a friend. "I put it out on my Facebook page, asking if anybody would be interested," says Heckman, "I got great feedback."

The offer was a free family portrait taken on the front porch, from a safe social distance. The only hook is a gentle encouragement to make a donation to the local Cypress Assistance Ministries food pantry, which provides to needy families. It was, seemingly, an easy sell for her neighbors. "It's to bring neighbors out; to let them see what they're going through, during these quarantine times," says Heckman.

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In no time at all, 120 families have scheduled their front porch portraits, with more coming each day. The experience provides a brief respite to a challenge few ever imagined.

To begin, the photos are being shared on social media, so folks can see what each other is doing. When the virus outbreak is over, there are plans to make a book, that people can buy as a lasting memory of these 'strange times'.