Woodbury Photographer Joins Front Steps Project to Keep Families Connected During COVID-19

A family sits on their front steps in this photograph from the Front Steps Project
Sigrid Dabelstein wanted to give back to her community during the coronavirus crisis, so she joined a nationwide charitable photography effort called the Front Steps Project.

By: Sydney Manning

Sigrid Dabelstein is a teacher in Woodbury, a grad student and a lover of photography. She wanted to do something to help give back to her community while still following the CDC’s regulations during these difficult times. She came across a project started by Massachusetts resident Cara Soulia called the #FrontStepsProject and decided to participate. The basis of this project is that a photographer drives up, settles the family on their front porch and, from at least 6 feet away, snaps a few photos to help document the bonding between families during the quarantine.

Related: Woodbury Coronavirus Resource Guide

Dabelstein originally did this free of charge. She thought only 25-50 families would reach out and set her goal at $1,000. However, just overnight she gained 73 families and is currently at 130. Now, there is just a small fee ($25 for Woodbury residents and $50 for non-residents) that goes directly to the SoWashCo CARES project, a project that was established right here in South Washington County and gives back to families that are most in need.

She has been seeing a lot of great activities being done by families: family bike rides, fun drawings with chalk on the pavement, many walks and runs, and kids playing barefoot in the backyard. Sigrid has also seen and heard many stories, but one stuck out to her in particular.

A family sits on their front steps in a photograph for the Front Steps Project

“I had one mom come out before the rest of her family, and she began telling me her story.  She is in remission from breast cancer and had just received her 3-month remission test results from Mayo Clinic. Her hair was finally starting to grow back [and] tonight was her first family photo and first photo taken in over year without her wearing a hat of some sort.” She continues on by saying, “I was the one blessed enough to be standing there with a camera, documenting her family together.”

For those that want to also give back to their community, she suggests that people go online and do some research to find a non-profit in their community and reach out while still maintaining the social distancing guidelines. She also recommends little projects such as, “sewing masks and donating to nearby nursing homes, order local food for curb-side pickup [or] write reviews for small businesses online.”

Submissions are currently closed but you can still donate to her GoFundMe page.

A couple holds a sign that says  "We Miss Our Family" on their porch in a Front Steps Project photograh