When staying at home shows we are coming together
Photos by Laura Beth Davidson
The idea of the Front Steps Project originated from a photographer in Massachusetts, who recommended having participating photographers take family portraits in exchange for donations for a charity. Photographer Laura Beth Davidson, of Forest, brought us the idea. After taking a few photos for Lynchburg Living, she put a call out in the community and requested donations for Miriam’s House. As of mid-April, more than 50 families had signed up and over $1000 had been raised! Learn more about her efforts at www.frontstepslynchburg.com.
Here and on the following pages, we highlight a few of her family portraits—they represent members of our community in various professions. Everyone is experiencing this pandemic differently, so we asked them all to answer the same question:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have learned…
The Health Care Workers
“…how amazing our team in the emergency department is. I always knew the people that work in the ED are special, but watching how everyone has come together to protect and care for our community has been so inspiring. In the face of something that could so easily paralyze in fear, the staff in the ED has continued to function at a high level while displaying kindness, strength and courage.” – Leigh Anna Tucker, nurse at Lynchburg General Hospital. Her husband, Drew, is also a frontline health care worker and works in the emergency department as a physician’s assistant.
The City Manager
“…that unprecedented times call for a focus on innovation and epic kindness,” said Bonnie Svrcek, city manager of Lynchburg. She says this pandemic is unlike any local government emergency she has experienced in her 40-year career. Svrcek is set to retire June 30.
The Nonprofit Director
“…that we are all incredibly adaptive as we develop and implement innovative ways to stay safe while caring for our community,” said Sarah Quarantotto, executive director of Miriam’s House. The nonprofit had to quickly develop protocols and processes that would allow them to continue serving the homeless while ensuring everyone’s safety.
The School Principal
“…that kindness and serving others can help us overcome the most challenging obstacles. Central Virginia is a powerful community full of resilient and inspiring citizens,” said Derrick Brown, principal of Amherst County High School. Brown said the lack of internet access in rural parts of the county was their biggest challenge as they implemented a virtual curriculum.
The Restaurant Owner
“…that we really are all in this together, despite all our differences,” said Dave Henderson, owner of The Water Dog. Despite seeing “unreal” unemployment numbers in the local restaurant industry, Dave says is proud to be a part of a resilient group of people who are “driven with grit and determination” as they had to redefine their businesses overnight.
The Religious Leaders
“…the importance of washing hands, staying socially and spiritually connected while physically apart, and of my faith in family and friends,” said Rev. Dr. Diane Vie,
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Vie and her husband, Rev. Todd Vie, say two tech-savvy employees helped the church learn how to stream services online and that learning how to preach to a camera was a “strange” adjustment.
The News Anchor
“…how love, understanding, compassion and kindness—something we call LUCK in our house—are the qualities needed now more than ever to help us defeat the fear and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic,” said Mark Spain, news anchor at ABC-13. Mark and his wife, Lynita, decided to use this time to create some custom t-shirts for themselves—one of their designs includes LUCK.
The Police Officer
“…that sadly it takes tragedy or an epidemic to really bring people together. We are being neighbors again, having family structure again, and praying hard for people who are affected,” said Det. Rob Miller, Lynchburg Police Department. Miller and his wife Kelly have four daughters; they celebrated the birth of their first grandchild, Riley, in March.