The Facebook Group, “Baton Rouge Area Businesses Affected by Covid 19 hosted by Guaranty Media,” continues to get raves from leadership in Louisiana and organizers of fundraising initiatives.
The group was created in March as a way for the community to rally around the companies that make The Red Stick thrive, but were forced to close during Phase 1 of the state’s Stay at Home order.
“The Guaranty Group was not only a huge resource, but it also kept people optimistic about the future,” said Betsy Barnes with the Office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.
The Louisiana version of the national Front Porch Project initiative recently announced the results of the program. Co-Founders Aimee Supp and Jenn Ocken recruited area photographers to take pictures of families on their front porches during the stay at home order at a safe distance away on the street. In lieu of payment to the photographer, these families were asked to donate to a local business or buy a gift card while they were closed.
“The post I made on the Guaranty Facebook Group announcing the Baton Rouge branch of the Front Porch Project was one of only three I personally wrote during the entire initiative,” said Ocken. “Soon after I made the post to that group, I realized I needed a contact form on my website because leads started flooding in.”
Ocken compiled a report with the number of porches photographed, and an estimated amount of money that was donated to local businesses.
It found that more than $1.28 million was paid forward to area establishments from over 4,000 families. In Baton Rouge alone they learned 2,714 total porches were tracked, which meant an estimated $1,020,464 for local businesses in The Capital City.
The report was based on surveys taken by participating families who had portraits taken.
Ocken said some photographers took it upon themselves to start similar fundraising initiatives in their communities but did not directly participate in the project, “So the numbers of families and money raised is likely much higher than what I was able to track down.”
A photographer in West Baton Rouge Parish took all of the money she raised for her own Front Porch Project and donated it to the Banking on BR Fundraiser benefiting The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. That amount was over $3,000.