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“Front Porch Project” photographer selected UP 2020 Citizen of the Year

June 25, 2020

Erin Schreyer, a local life coach and blogger, has been selected University Park’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.  

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Erin and her family moved to University Park 10 years ago. She lives with her husband, Ed, and their two children, Ella, who will be a freshman in high school this fall and Evan, who will be a junior.  

As a life coach, Erin focuses on motivating and encouraging others. That’s the genesis for the “Front Porch Project.” At the beginning of the “Stay at Home” orders, she saw a story on the news about a photographer in Colorado who was taking front porch photos of families to document this unique time in history. Erin loved the idea and decided to take it a step further by asking the families to donate to their favorite nonprofit organization instead of paying a fee.  

Erin put the word out to a neighborhood email group. After taking photos of the five families that originally responded, she shared them on Facebook with short narratives and a shout-out to the nonprofits they chose.  From there, the project rapidly expanded across the Park Cities. Over the span of just a few weeks, she photographed 399 families, and collected $153,000 for 188 nonprofits.

For Erin, in addition to the money raised, the project demonstrated the warmth and generosity of our community. When the images were shared on Facebook, neighbors learned more about each other, and in some cases new friendships were formed. As a matter of fact, the closeness of the community is what Erin appreciates most about University Park. “I love and value a strong sense of community,” Erin said. “This City represents that.”

Erin was surprised and honored when Mayor Tommy Stewart called her with the news. She was even a little embarrassed because the project wasn’t about her, it was about all those who wanted to help others. Erin humbly asked, “Instead of Citizen of the Year, can it just be Community of the Year? When we all come together, we can do great things!”

The Mayor will present Erin with a plaque and a special Citizen of the Year gift. The Citizen of the Year award was created by the City Council in 2005 to boost public awareness and appreciation for the many residents who work, often behind the scenes, to better the City’s quality of life.