How one small business owner is paying it forward during the COVID-19 pandemic
Harahan, La – As a tax accountant in Harahan, Paul Jouet is still working 9 to 5 during the current public health crisis. During this unprecedented public health crisis, he’s also taken on a second job: launching Front Porch Project Harahan. This small business owner has created a reason for folks to shower, dress up and go outside.
“Basically I’m offering free photo sessions. I drive up, stay six feet away, take your picture on your porch,” says Jouet.
“We’ve done close to 55 families so far, including the Harahan Police Department, the Harahan Fire Department and the priests at St. Rita in front of the rectory,” he says.
He agreed to let WGNO Reporter Stephanie Oswald and photographer Jeff Kent tag along on a couple of his photo shoots, but first he had Stephanie take a photo of his family on their Harahan porch.
Most of the time Jouet is behind the camera, capturing his neighbors as they are coping with life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Anthony family was happy to get their photo taken.
“I was looking on Facebook and I saw this really cool Harahan Front Porch Project and I thought, ‘That’s awesome!’ so I asked to join and they sent me the link to sign up. It was super easy!” says Melissa Anthony.
The Lambert family was also thrilled to strike a pose on their porch.
“I think it’s great to document this time in our lives,” says Amanda Lambert.
“I think just like Katrina, it’s a time that we’ll never forget. It’s a time we’ll always talk about and it’ll be a bookmark in our lives. You know? Before COVID, after COVID, before Katrina, after Katrina, before September 11th, after September 11th,” she continued.
The neighborhood photographer checks the photos and posts them on Facebook the next day.
He says the first family he photographed wore gold dresses and suits, but each family has its own style. Some wore super hero costumes, others brought props such as toilet paper and Lysol! Some families include their pets in the photos.
Families have taken photos celebrating Christmas, Easter, graduations and birthdays.
In return for the free photos, Jouet asks only that people pay it forward by supporting local businesses. It’s a good faith exchange.
He has gotten some tips however, and when cash comes his way he helps another philanthropic mission: His wife Adrianne, and their three daughters are making maks at home; so far, they’ve sewed nearly 2,000. Those are also being distributed to friends and neighbors, free of charge.
For this close-knit community, it makes perfect sense to strike a pose and pay it forward!