United Way of Greater New Bedford knows that the COVID-19 coronavirus may impact the area for months or even years. That’s why the organization launched the Help United - Greater New Bedford COVID-19 Response Fund. According to the press release from Friday, April 10, this fund will “provide cash assistance to out of work service workers and retired or out of work seniors over 65 in the Greater New Bedford area.”

If you are struggling, you can apply HERE to benefit from this program. If you wish to donate to the fund, you can text HELPUNITED to 313131 or visit unitedwayofgnb.org.

Chelsey Puza lives on the SouthCoast and has watched many of her own friends and family members struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic. She wanted to support the cause established by United Way, but a simple text wasn’t enough for her. She had to put a little more effort behind her generosity. One day she stumbled upon a Facebook post from Cara Soulia Photography. “The Front Steps Project” was the Needham photographer’s way of continuing her passion while still maintaining a safe distance from her subjects. Instead of collecting payment for the shoot, clients are asked to donate to a charity of the photographer’s choosing.

Puza joined the Front Steps Project and decided to raise money for the Help United COVID-19 Response Fund. Her goal of five thousand dollars has already been met and surpassed within 21 days. She visited over seventy houses in that time and has no plans to stop now.

"It’s sort of unbelievable," Puza tells us. "When I started this project I had a tiny goal of $250 and when I hit $1,000 in less than 48 hours I knew I was onto something special. Of course, I want to raise as much as possible to help those struggling during this pandemic, but it’s more about bringing a smile to people’s faces and getting to make connections (from afar) more than anything. That has been the biggest gift. Raising this much in a short three weeks is a true testament to the community and that we are all in this together, no matter what our circumstance may be."

If you are in the Dartmouth/New Bedford area and wish to participate in this ongoing program, please visit chelseypuzaphotography.com to sign up. Puza will contact you as soon as possible to take your photos. “You will get 2 photos to commemorate this unique time in our lives.” Puza does suggest a minimum $50 donation for photos to be taken and edited.

READ MORE: Inspiring Stories From the Coronavirus Pandemic

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