BOSTON — Professional photographer Seana Williamson has joined a global initiative to gift a photo session to an essential worker every time a local resident purchases a family session for themselves, now through April 24. All sessions will take place after the social distancing restrictions have been lifted.

Anastasia Chomlack is the photographer who initially launched the initiative called “ONE For ONE Gratitude Sessions” with the goal of gifting 10 sessions to essential workers in her community.

Since launching April 1, over 300 photographers have shown interest and sought more information. Williamson said she is thrilled to bring her project to the Merrimack Valley, Northshore and Seacoast.

“When I came across this initiative, my little family had just all recovered from coronavirus, and I lit up inside,” Williamson said. “I’m happy to be giving families something to look forward to once this has subsided, and honored to be a part of a global movement along with hundreds of other photographers doing the same.”

The benefits of this initiative are twofold. It’s a way for photographers to give back to those essential front-line workers, and to create some cashflow for themselves as photographers lose much of their planned business over the upcoming wedding and lifestyle shoot season.

For more information about this initiative and to nominate a family, visit online at

Postal workers ask that residents keep their distance

The U.S. Postal Service is asking people to not approach mail carriers to accept delivery and to let carriers leave the mailbox before collecting their mail. 

With schools not in session, children should also be encouraged not to approach a postal vehicle or carrier.

Mike Rakes, district manager for the U.S. Postal Service, Greater Boston District, said postal employees are working hard to ensure residents stay connected with their world through the mail.

“For everyone’s safety, our employees are following the social distancing precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health officials,” he said.

If a delivery requires a signature, carriers will knock on the door rather than touching the bell. They will maintain a safe distance, and instead of asking for a signature on their mobile device, they’ll ask for the resident’s name. The carrier will leave the mail or package in a safe place for retrieval. 

Rakes said the CDC, World Health Organization, as well as the Surgeon General indicate there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.

“With social distancing, we can keep the mail moving while keeping our employees, and the public, safe,” Rakes added.

Grant program set up for cultural nonprofits

In the first week of the coronavirus crisis, Massachusetts nonprofit cultural organizations reported a loss of $55.7 million from event cancellations, layoffs and venue closures. As this health crisis continues, the future of these organizations – which help bring communities to life – is becoming more dire.

To support the nonprofits, Essex County Community Foundation has launch the Essex County Creative Nonprofit Resiliency Grant Program.

Seeded with $100,000 from ECCF’s Creative County Initiative, the program will provide one-time grants to Essex County cultural nonprofits that anchor the area’s vulnerable and vitally important cultural communities. The program will target small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations with deep roots in their communities that serve the economically vulnerable and are taking a long view toward recovery and sustainability.

For more information and to help sustain vital creative nonprofits by making a donation, visit

Essex County nonprofits whose mission is to support arts and culture – and that have been directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis — may apply for awards, which range from $2,000 to $5,000.

For complete guidelines and to apply, visit

Individual artists are not eligible for the Essex County Creative Nonprofit Resiliency Program, but may be eligible for a grant from the Essex County Artist Fund. For more information, visit

NECC Emergency Fund uncovers tremendous need

HAVERHILL — Northern Essex Community College’s success in raising funds to benefit students who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 has been offset by the tremendous need that has been uncovered.

As of April 10, the college received $10,425 in donations to the new fund. During the same time frame, 125 students, each with their own compelling story, have applied for and received funding.

Eighty of those applications were from students with stories that are heartbreaking, said Allison Dolan-Wilson, NECC’s vice president of institutional advancement. “These students are determined to continue their education, despite the increased challenges they are now facing,” she said,

The stories include a single mom who is now homeschooling her disabled child, so unable to work to support her family, needs help with rent, internet, utilities and food. A student who lost her job as a note taker, no longer has access to the college’s computers, and is traveling to a relative’s home to access a computer and needs a laptop of her own. A part-time worker who is collecting only $69 a week in unemployment, when she made double or triple that when working and is asking for help paying her utilities, especially the internet which she needs to continue her studies, and a nursing student who because of lost wages had to take her savings fund to buy food and is looking for funding to purchase her nursing uniforms.

Mark Van Weelden, market area manager for Covanta, responded quickly to NECC’s request for help with a $1,000 donation.

“As a member of the NECC Foundation, I’ve seen how Northern Essex transforms the lives of its students,” he said. “We wanted to do something to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19 for these students who are working so hard to get an education.”

The college is continuing to secure donations to the NECC Emergency Fund and will be making a special push on May 5 (#GivingTuesday).

If you would like to donate and help Northern Essex students, please contribute to the emergency fund at or email Allison Dolan Wilson at

For more information on applying for funds, contact Despina Lambropoulos at






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