In 2010, three friends — Christine Cotton, Debbie Horwitz and Susan Romaine — emailed a few neighbors inviting them to leave plantinghope_titlepagecanned food on their porches. They collected these cans and delivered them to a nearby hunger relief organization. This was the beginning of PORCH (People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes).
PORCH is an all-volunteer, nonprofit that has united thousands of neighbors in a shared mission of relieving local hunger. It has grown to more than 150 neighborhoods in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. PORCH’s model is flourishing in Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte, other cities and towns in North Carolina, and in cities far beyond. To learn how to bring PORCH to your neighborhood, you can watch the 10-minute video, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” at porchcommunities.org/video. Or, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I met Susan Romaine in the summer of 2015, she stressed the simplicity and efficacy of PORCH and how easily she thought other communities could replicate the organizational structure they’ve established. When I told her I thought PORCH had a wonderful way of giving, she was quick to correct me. “PORCH is not about giving and receiving, it’s about one community healing itself.”
She spoke about the magic none of the three founders had imagined when PORCH started this grassroots effort. “Neighbors, who otherwise might never have met, now share stories and laughter. As they come together, differences fade, judgments wane and hope is planted throughout the community.”