PARKLAND, FL- Local business owner Melinda Green knows firsthand the economic impact the Coronavirus can have on our daily lives. Green is the Co-Owner of a photography business called Autumn and Melinda Photography. The company lost almost all their business overnight in the wake of the pandemic. Green's husband is also a local business owner that was no longer able to operate once the stay-at-home mandate was instituted. Instead of dwelling on their own struggles, the Green family looked beyond their own situation and saw a world of people that are in an even tougher position than themselves.
The Greens are a family of five with three boys that love and play sports, and in the blink of an eye the season was over. Melinda had an idea to begin taking photos of baseball players from their son's team from a distance while people were in quarantine, calling the photo campaign "Safe at Home." The effort then turned into other photo opportunities for families and other local residents to have their photos taken at home from a distance with a long lens.
"I took photos of my son Cooper's travel baseball team, the 13U Parkland Pokers. Then as I offered to take photos of the families we missed seeing, and seeing how happy it made everyone, I went with the thought that we all have a team, and we are essentially all the same team," added Green. "One family offered to donate money to my company, since they knew I was out of business. I then realized there was an opportunity to use this as a time to do whatever small thing I could do."
Green noticed a post on a volunteer group page saying the houseparents at SOS Children's Village would really appreciate help with providing meals, as the houseparents now had to help the many children in their homes with virtual school.
"It hadn't dawned on me how much help it is for someone to provide the meals prepared already," said Green. "Every job a parent has help with really does give a chance for respite. I reached out to the Resident Manager, Eric Davis, and asked what day they needed the most help. He mentioned they would love a little help with the groceries for the houseparents to make an Easter dinner. I knew I could work to make that happen," she said.
Once Green began to make the need known, local families and business owners got on board and ended up not only donating Easter meals to all 77 residents at SOS, but they had enough money left over to contribute meals to all 77 residents the following week.
Donations and support came from all directions for the project, Green says.
"One of the restaurants couldn't get enough food for us, and Steve Corn of Family Bagels said he would absolutely get whatever we needed. He pulled it together in 24 hours and we purchased fully cooked, full Easter dinners for the residents and their houseparents. He even separated the meals by house so each home was able to have a sit-down family style meal. They really went above and beyond to make sure they had everything hot and on time. His family even participated in the project and made a donation themselves," she added. Another friend, Rachel Cunningham, collected money at the same time and provided lunch for a day from Pasquale's and dessert for Easter meals from Nothing Bundt Cake.
Melinda Green says her secret to making a difference is to jump in with any small effort, and that every effort to support helps the community.
"I really hope that people know that you don't have to take on the world to be of help. You can do one small thing. If we all do the small things we can make a bigger impact. I had a lot of families tell me that they always wanted to donate money, but were worried it wouldn't be enough to cover, say, a whole house worth of food at SOS, and with this project, their money made a bigger impact."
Green plans to continue the effort again sometime down the road. "Now that I know the impact we can make, I will absolutely do this again in some capacity. The people at SOS Village are doing wonderful things and I would be so fortunate to help in any small way again."
For more information about Autumn and Melinda photography, please visit their website.