A Braselton woman used her photography talents to document life during the shelter-in-place while raising money for a good cause.
Luciana Sarmento, a Riverstone Park resident, recently participated in the Front Porch Project. The project — which captures portraits and memories of families on their front porches — has gained popularity nationwide as families were forced to stay at home due to the spreading Coronavirus.
“The Front Porch Project is not a new concept,” said Sarmento. “This has been done all over the country to give families the opportunity to have photo sessions done without leaving their homes due to the shelter-in-place order. Some of these photographers chose to charge for the photos and some chose to donate their time.”
Sarmento decided to offer free photoshoots to her neighbors in the Riverstone Park community and asked that they make a donation for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. As of May 16, she’d raised nearly $500.
Sarmento said she and her husband have been donating to the children’s hospital for years after they learned the hospital doesn’t charge families for care.
“This was only possible because of donations,” she said. “We had no children at the time. The decision to donate to St. Jude really came from the heart, wanting to help children.”
Sarmento and her husband later had a son who was diagnosed with sickle cell trait and, even though their son didn’t have the symptoms, they knew he could pass the trait on to his children in the future.
“To my surprise, St. Jude not only treats kids with cancer, but also treats kids with Sickle Cell Anemia and other diseases,” Sarmento said.
She said their personal situation encouraged the family to continue offering their support to the children’s hospital.
“We could have been in a situation needing St. Jude's help, which made us realize more than ever that we are fortunate when so many are not,” she said. “That reinforced our desire to continue to help the hospital as much as possible.”
Sarmento moved to the Braselton neighborhood a year ago and said the community "is always willing to help each other." That inspired her to give back to the community.
"As a photographer I wanted to give back to the community donating my time during the shelter-in-place," she said. "I heard many photographers across the country were doing front porch sessions keeping social distancing. I thought this was the perfect thing to do to allow families to have their photos done and why not raise money for my favorite organization. Families would donate money only if they could afford to do so in this difficult time."
Sarmento hopes her story inspires others to donate their services and time for a cause “and bring our community closer.”