My goal with this project is to spotlight the members of our community who are sacrificing tirelessly to keep our own part of the world healthy, fed and running properly. I am creating simple portraits of our frontline neighbors so that I can showcase the fighting and selfless spirit that they demonstrate to the rest of our community.
These are not glamour shots, they are real portraits of local people in a worldwide crisis.
If you know anyone or any business that would like to participate, please call Javon at 770-715-4410 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org by clicking below.
Although, I have taken some time off from my project from time to time, I have been still grabbing a few of Valdosta's heroes when I can. On one such an occasion, I got to go back to Partnership Health Center. Jaqueline Hickman works at Partnership Health Center, in fact, she was the one to reach out to me about doing this. I have really enjoyed getting to know my community and I can't thank these people enough for what they have done.
At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 3306 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Jennifer Vitatoe is an EMT for Amerimed EMS. I met her last year when I photographed her daughter's wedding in October. I have struggled being able to get an EMT and I couldn't think of anyone better to ask a favor of than Jennifer. I am very happy and honored to include her in my project as it is a little sweeter when I actually know one of my subjects.
At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 201 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Desiree Carver, pictured above, is a reporter for the Valdosta Daily Times. In a time where we are constantly turning to the news to stay updated, no one is more vital than the reporter. I contacted Dean Polling to see if I would be able to include them and he was gracious enough to allow me to do so. They have been reporting outside of the office since the end of March. They have covered the virus and other events that continue to happen within the community. The projected plan is to return at the end of May.
At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 182 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Terri Jenkins is the Executive Director of the American Red Cross of South Central Georgia. Terri describes herself as more of a cheerleader for her team, so here she is depicted as such with pom poms and all! In the midst of this pandemic, the Red Cross has it's hands full supervising blood collections to assisting disaster clients to working with elected officials all while working in a virtual environment ensuring that the Red Cross mission is still being delivered safely.
At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 156 cases of Covid-19.
Vickey Reed is a cafeteria manager for Lowndes County Schools. What some people don't think about is a tragic side effect of closing schools, which is that some students rely on the meals that come from the schools as their source of nutrition for the day. So many of us are so concerned with our search for toilet paper and corona snacks that we take for granted the food that we do have. Few more than Vickey know that as she works with this situation on a daily basis. She and others at Lowndes County Board of Education have worked tirelessly and too often thanklessly trying to do their best to keep these students fed. It's not just a job for them. It's a drive, an indefatigable spirit to make sure that someone does the right thing. That someone makes sure that these students have the insurance of the food to nourish their bodies. She doesn't wear a cape. No one that I have photographed has worn a cape. But what's also true is that if asked, none that i have photographed have considered themselves heroes either. For me, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 155 cases of Covid-19.
Ashleigh Kenny, a teacher for Lowndes County Schools reached out to me to tell me how much she loved what I was doing. Here she is shown holding class with several of her students. After some very uplifting comments from her, she helped me to organize being able to include Lowndes County Board of Education. When our schools were shut down and the kids were suddenly at home, many parents became teachers and all the students became home schooled. Teachers have done so much during this time for the sake of our children, from driving by their students house to hosting online classes to continue to try and teach our children. They truly deserve a very gracious thank you. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 155 cases of Covid-19.
I got a call from Logan Schunoff at Legacy Behavioral Health Services sent me a message and inquired about being a part of my project. I was excited. Not all the places I get to go are ones I have thought of, I was elated that I was being given the chance to showcase these individuals. Legacy offers outpatient services to help people with mental health, addictive disease and developmental disability issues become healthy members of society again. They serve a mind blowing ten counties! Paula Perdue, RN is a nurse manager at Legacy Behavioral Health Services. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 150 cases of Covid-19.
Kelli McDonald is a registered nurse at Partnership Health Center. Partnership Health Care is a primary care clinic for the uninsured, which is needed more than ever right now as this disease rampages through communities that struggle to afford healthcare. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 146 cases of Covid-19.
Meet Darcy Gunter. She is with Living Bridges Ministry. When the pandemic started and they closed the schools, she knew they ghad to do something to feed the kids that weren't able to get the meals at school anymore. Working off a minuscule budget, most of the food having been donated by the community, they set out to start feeding the community. The day that I was there was overwhelming to say the least. When I arrived, I thought there was something going on at the nearby lawyer's office. By the time they started serving the drive through line, the cars were backed up all they way onto Patterson street. I think I saw they served 500 meals that day! At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 136 cases of Covid-19.
It's not all adults. Meet sixteen year old Ellie Griner. When most kids were sitting at home waiting to hear if they would be able to go back to school, Ellie decided to help organize "Hearts for Healthcare". She has collected around 450 letters from the lower, middle and upper schools at Valwood from all ranges of students. She's bundled the letters with cute colored letters written by little kids to longer, deep letters written by the older kids and sent them to South Georgia Medical Center as well as hospitals in Atlanta, GA, Albany, GA, New Orleans, LA, Vanderbilt in TN, Johns Hopkins, California, New Jersey and hospitals around New York City. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 131 cases of Covid-19.
Friday was one of my busiest days so far. I was honored to have been given the chance to photograph the Lowndes County government and employees. There would be no community without these great people. This was also the day that I ran a Facebook Live so people could see what it is I am doing with our community members. I was able to photograph volunteers from all aspects from the communtiy from our utilities, 911 operators, public works, and even animal control! Meet Brad Cartee, a fire fighter for Lowndes County. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 129 cases of Covid-19.
Meet Shonda Miller. She works at Constant Care. She is a certified medical assistant and she is one of the most pleasant people I have met. Led and encouraged by her faith, she is a beacon of optimism and a spirit like this is much needed right now. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 125 cases of Covid-19.
Meet Bernard Bulemu. He works at South Georgia Regional Library. The public library has done a lot to try and help at thus tine. They keep their parking lot open so that people can access their wifi at certain times for free. And, do you see those red things in his hand? They are 3D printing those for the masks that our health care workers are wearing to help with the comfort of having to wear them all the time. The masks attach to those instead of going around your ears. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 122 cases of Covid-19.
Ernestine Stewart is a CNA at Pruitt Health Hospice. Pruitt employs over 30 people and their care nurses work mostly on location in the final moments of their patients lives. I can't imagine the emotional toll that this takes on their employees especially during this time. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 105 cases of Covid-19.
Deedee Williams is a patient care technician at DaVita Oak Street Dialysis. I spoke with Deedee last week and I was very excited to be able to include DaVita with the Hometown Heroes project. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 101 cases of Covid-19.
Marquez Roney is a Senior Staff Nurse at Hospice of South GA. I apologize in advance if I get the info wrong, but I believe that I was told that at one point, they had 4 cases of Covid-19. Truly heartbreaking. I loved the idea that he had of making a heart out of his stethoscope. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 83 cases of Covid-19.
Reggie Vinson works at Smith Northview Hospital as a security guard. When I had first started to think of this project for Valdosta, he was one of the first people I had thought about. He sits out in front of the hospital, rain or shine, directing people to the Covid testing stations or to the main doors of the hospital for regular patients. I was very happy to have had the opportunity to get him in front of my lens. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 75 cases of Covid-19.
Winona Green works at Second Harvest of South Georgia as the Kids Cafe Director. Sharing a moment of levity with myself and some of the others at the office, she demonstrated what she feels like most days. I have to give it to this group, in the midst of this traumatic time in our lives, they were all in good humor and optimistic. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 70 cases of Covid-19.
Mikki Wills runs a restaurant and catering service called Jessie's Restaurant and Catering. While I was there, she was prepping to go orders and getting Easter products ready. She told me of how the downtown area businesses were banding together to offer products and services to try and help each other during this time. At the time of this capture, Valdosta, GA had 56 cases of COVID-19.
Amber Spradley is a reporter for WCTV. The news doesn't stop during the pandemic and the reporters are still out there every day doing their best to keep the community informed. At the time of this capture, there were 53 cases of COVID-19.
Randy DeCoudres is the owner of the restaurants, Friends, Woodstack and The Salty Snapper. He has over 90 employees that count on him to lead them through this time. Not only that, he and his team are doing their best to try and keep Valdosta fed and to have some semblance of normalcy during this pandemic. At the time of this capture, there were 49 cases of COVID-19.
Brittni Harvey, pictured above is an LPN at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, GA. She is one of the LPN's that staffs the 5th Floor of the "Tower" where the COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized. At the time of this capture on April 6, 2020, Lowndes County had 42 cases of the COVID-19 virus.
Pictured to the left is Brittanie Metzler, a CNA/MA at Valdosta Family Medicine. At the time of this capture on April 3, 2020, Lowndes County had 32 cases of the COVID-19 virus.
Dawn Longieliere, pictured to the right, is an LMT/NMT at Rejuvenating Massage Therapy. At the time of this capture, March 30, 2020, Lowndes County had 20 cases of the COVID-19 virus.