As a child, I have fond memories of sitting on porches and stoops. Summer nights with the sounds of crickets or along a busy town road with trucks rumbling by—both are vivid memories. The porch was a place where I could hang out with my friends or sit with adults and listen to their conversations.
Our porch at home served as the “welcome home” after being away or a perfect place of refuge when I needed time to myself apart from the chaos of my six siblings. The porch was also a place to sit with my dad as we watched storms roll in or listened to the sounds of a summer night. When I arrived at CAMP Rehoboth Community Center on July 10, 2023, I needed a place to meet our community. I found the perfect place, the porch with four rocking chairs and an ocean breeze.
Google porch stories and you will find books, movies, poems, pictures, and radio pieces all about life on porches in this country. Add stoops to the search and the breadth of stories grows larger.
The past eight weeks I have been learning the stories of CAMP Rehoboth and its community. I learned some of these stories while sitting on the front porch of CAMP Rehoboth. Each Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m., community members joined me on the porch. Some told me stories of years gone by while others shared their challenges with being newly retired. We talked politics, discussed concerns for our young people, and brainstormed how to help those who are navigating end-of-life care. All stories, insights, feedback, and opinions were (and are) welcome.
My mom’s gift of wisdom to each of her children was this insight: “Each conversation you enter into is an opportunity to learn.” She also told us to listen more than we speak and to let each person share their full story. “Stay with them,” she would say.
Rehoboth, a Hebrew word, means “room for all” and “room enough for you to prosper, flourish, be successful, blessed, and fruitful.” I am grateful to those who came before me—Murray, Steve, all of the board members, volunteers, and staff. Over the years, so many have walked onto the porch and through the front doors of the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. These people knew the importance of loving others so that there was room for all. These people practiced my mom’s advice, “stay with them.”
My mom did not necessarily mean physically “stay with them”; she was referring to a state of true and authentic desire to learn and connect. Sometimes all we need is someone to sit, listen, not interrupt, express empathy, and help us to hear ourselves.
I will continue to listen; each conversation provides an opportunity to learn. It is through this learning that together we will chart the best course forward to care for and execute the mission of CAMP Rehoboth and the community. There are so many opportunities in front of us. I look forward to all that we can do together.
Please join us in the effort to ensure the good health and well-being of all sexual orientations and gender identities. If you are not yet a member, please join. If you were thinking of volunteering, we would love to have you. In addition, if you have taken a break and want to return to the porch, there is room for all. ▼
Kim Leisey, PhD, is Executive Director of CAMP Rehoboth.